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John Cardinal O'Connor
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Religious Figure
    (January 15, 1920-May 3, 2000)
    Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    Chief of Chaplains of the US Navy (1975-79)
    Archbishop of New York (1985-2000)
    He wrote a book declaring the Vietnam War 'morally justified.'
    He ticked off many Jews when he declared legal abortion to be 'precisely the same' as the Holocaust.
    He interjected himself into politics, saying that Catholics could not 'in good conscience' vote for politicians who favored keeping abortion legal.
    He opposed city and state laws to ban discrimination against homosexuals, even when exemptions were granted for religious institutions.
    He opposed distributing condoms to prevent the spread of AIDS and gave out false information about the effectiveness of condoms.
    As a military chaplain during the Korean War, he entered combat zones to say Mass and deliver the last rites to soldiers.
    He wrote a letter to Jewish leaders in New York apologizing for past harm to the Jewish community and declared, 'One cannot be a faithful Christian and an anti-Semite. They are incompatible, because anti-Semitism is a sin.'
    He often ministered to dying AIDS patients and had the first specialized AIDS unit in New York state established at St. Clare's Hospital.
    He called for a 'major overhaul' of punitive drug laws, which he believed resulted in 'grave injustice.'
    He admitted he might have had an easier time if he had been 'a silent servant of the people,' but added 'If you're false to your own temperament, you're not going to be an effective leader.'

Credit: C. Fishel

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