Cardinal Edward Egan, who headed the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York from 2000 to 2009, died Thursday after suffering a heart attack at his Manhattan residence. He was 82.
He was pronounced dead at the New York University Langone Medical Center, the archdiocese announced.
Born in Oak Park, Illinois in 1932, Egan was ordained a priest in 1957 and consecrated a bishop in 1985. Egan was appointed by Pope John Paul II to the College of Cardinals in 2001.
As archbishop of New York, Egan was praised for the role he played as spiritual leader of the city's Catholic community after the September 11, 2001, attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center.
"Cardinal Egan spread love and knowledge, and brought comfort to countless New Yorkers and others across the country and the world who sought his guidance and counsel - especially in the aftermath of 9/11," New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement.
Egan succeeded Cardinal John O'Connor, a major figure among American Catholics. Before Pope John Paul II named him New York archbishop, Egan served as bishop of Bridgeport, Connecticut, from 1988 to 2000. During his tenure there, he came under fire for how he handled allegations of sex abuse by priests under his jurisdiction.
Critics say Egan failed to report the allegations to authorities, sought to cover up the claims and allowed offending priests to continue working.
In 2002, he apologized in a letter read at Mass, saying he was "deeply sorry" about mistakes the diocese may have been made.
After he retired, Egan retracted the apology, saying he had done nothing wrong.
Some information for this report provided by Reuters.