By Jim Bowman
. . . Not always fairly, writes John L. Allen Jr., veteran former Natl Catholic Reporter writer -- http://www.cruxnow.com/church/2015/03/07/whats-really-miraculous-about-pope-francis/ -- now of the online Boston Globe's Crux publication -- http://www.cruxnow.com/. But what's news is how he fared in Rome:
When he interacted with the Italian media, Egan came off as relaxed, spontaneous, and funny, not to mention razor sharp. He struck people as caring and pastoral, not at all a stuffed shirt or a pompous ecclesiastical potentate. My Italian colleagues were always stunned to hear that in the States, people thought of him as "embattled" or "unpopular."
Face to face, same story, even in NY:
People who dealt with Egan on a personal basis in New York always had the same impression. They'd always say the man they knew was accessible, supportive, kind, genuinely interested in them as people, and could flash a great sense of humor. They'd often express frustration that those qualities rarely seemed to surface in media depictions or public conversation.
Retired, did confirmations, wowed people:
In retirement, Egan threw himself into pastoral activity far away from the spotlight, among other things taking real pleasure in doing confirmations for the archdiocese of New York. People who rubbed shoulders with him in those more intimate settings would almost always come away charmed and impressed, shaking their heads over how to square the man they'd just met with the image they'd imbibed.
In the end, perhaps the best summary of Egan's life is that he was a decent human being and a true man of the Church. When he was asked to do a tough job, he did it without a lot of whining or hand-wringing.
He made mistakes along the way, and leaves behind a mixed legacy. But perhaps the remembrances in coming days that will round out that assessment will also serve to lift up the real man, who was always there beneath the myth.
I'll take that for an obit.
Answer Book 2018
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