As a young priest living in Saint Louis and Washington, D.C. during the 1980’s, New York meant two things to me: John Cardinal O’Connor and Mayor Ed Koch. These two men showed how, despite some deep philosophical disagreements, they could not only work together for the good of the City of New York, but could become close personal friends. Indeed, Mayor Koch was a good friend to three of my predecessors, Cardinal Cooke, Cardinal O’Connor, and Cardinal Egan, and, I am happy to have been able to consider him a friend of mine as well. It is, perhaps, some measure of the respect that Ed Koch – a proud, Jewish man, as he described himself to me – continued to hold among Catholics that a seat was always held for him at Midnight Mass in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, and, at the annual Alfred E. Smith Dinner, the largest ovation invariably went not to the evening’s guest speaker, not to the Archbishop of New York, but to Mayor Koch.
I extend my personal condolences to Mayor Koch’s sister Pat, and to his many friends and loved ones. He will have special place in my prayers, and in those of the Catholic community he loved and worked closely with, this weekend.