His Eminence Cardinal John Joseph O’Connor was of the few people in history who had the rank of admiral and also the position of a cardinal in the Catholic Church.
On this day a man who, during his career, had the rank of an American admiral and the honor of the Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, was born. His name was John Joseph O’Connor and was born in Philadelphia. At the age of 25 he became a priest, just after World War II ended in 1945. Seven years later, Reverend O’Connor joined the U.S. Navy as a military chaplain. He soon found himself on the front lines because, at that time, the Korean War was being waged. During that war, Reverend O’Connor often had to go into combat zones in order to say Mass and to administer last rites to the wounded and dying soldiers.
O’Connor climbed through the ranks and became admiral with the function of Chief of Chaplains of the Navy. The Pope awarded him the title of Monsignor. In 1979, Pope John Paul II appointed him bishop. O’Connor was consecrated to the episcopate in Rome by the pope himself.
Msgr. O’Connor was placed at an even higher position in 1984, when he became the Catholic archbishop of New York. Holders of this prominent function are traditionally also proclaimed cardinals, so that Archbishop O’Connor became a cardinal in 1985. Cardinal O’Connor was the Archbishop of New York until his death at the age of 80. The funeral was attended by President Bill Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, former President George H. W. Bush, future President George W. Bush, and New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani. The funeral was personally presided over by Secretary of State Angelo Sodano in New York.