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Cardinal O'Connor receives Gold Medal from Bush

Aired July 10, 2001 - 14:42   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: We are interrupting that report to take you live to Saint Patrick's Cathedral in new York City. President Bush is there, a one day trip to New York, his first to the state since becoming president. He's about to present the Congressional Gold Medal posthumously to Cardinal John O'Connor. We will listen in to the president.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Distinguished members of United States Congress, members of my cabinet, Mary Ward, Dorothy Hamilton and members of O'Connor family, Reverend Ogilvy and Father Cochland (ph) , leaders of Catholic Church, Moureen O'Flynn, thank you for sharing your angelic voice with us today.

(APPLAUSE)

My fellow Americans, thank you for the welcome to your city and to the seat of this Arch Diocese. I especially want to thank the police and fire departments for the presentation of the colors appear and their service to this community.

(APPLAUSE)

John Cardinal O'Connor was fond of recalling the greeting he received when visiting the Vatican. Pope John Paul II would meet him with these words: "How is arch bishop of the capitol of the world?

For me on my first visit as president, it's a pleasure Mr. Mayor, to be in the capital of the world.

(APPLAUSE)

This is a happier occasion than the day we said our good-byes at a solemn mass in a mourning city. It takes a lot to bring all of New York to a pause. But that's what happened when the earthly remains of John Cardinal O'Connor were laid to rest in this beautiful cathedral. From the distance of a year, his character as his contributions only seem larger. We remember a life of good works, strong faith, and great influence.

For many here today memories are still vivid and very personal. For parishioners it may be the memory of an imposing figure who stood here so many times looking every inch a Cardinal. Fearing and seeing nothing, and having an opinion, it seemed, on everything. For thousands of veterans it's the memory of a chaplain who counseled them, heard their confessions, and attained the rank of Admiral.

For the working men and women it will be the memory of an advocate, someone who rose to great prominence but remained the proud son of a union man who honored hard work. The poor and immigrants of this city will always remember their staunch friend who defended their interests and understood their struggles. Many families remember the church leader who came to AIDS patients with care and love. Parents here and in Scranton will remember the priest who gave so much time and special care to boys and girls with disabilities.

And the world will remember the gallant defender of children in vulnerability, innocence, and their right to be born.

(APPLAUSE)

Many decades from now these living memories of the man will begin to pass. Fewer and fewer will have known the sound of his voice. The largeness of his presence, the sting of his rebuke, his marvelous sense of humor, or the breadth of his compassion.

But future generations will know at least this about the 11th leader of the Arch Diocese: He was a man who left a mark on his time, a moral leader not only in title but in truth, a defender of the faith, the very kind who have kept the faith alive for two millennium, a great man in a high place, and also for 80 years on this earth a good person, a cheerful giver, and a much-loved soul.

Posterity will know this: the Congress of the United States in respect and gratitude directed that a gold medal be struck bearing Cardinal O'Connor's name and image. And on this day, on behalf of the American people, I'm honored to present the Congressional Gold Medal to the family and to the successor of John Cardinal O'Connor. God bless America. [

(APPLAUSE)

ALLEN: That is the sister of Cardinal O'Connor accepting this award.

A very big day for the O'Connor family. Very kind words spoken about this about this much-beloved Cardinal who died in May of 2000. The group here is at Saint Patrick's Cathedral. That is the site of O'Connor's tomb. The Bush Administration making efforts here to reach out to the Catholic community in New York City. Again, this is a one- day trip. It started on Ellis Island to New York, the first trip to New York that the president has taken since becoming president.

We will take a break.

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