The naming of a new archbishop of New York was once a not-so-secretive affair.
At a time when many are wondering how far along the process may be for choosing a successor to Cardinal Egan, I came across this item from the New York Times from Sept. 2, 1902:
“BISHOP FARLEY TO BE NEW YORK ARCHBISHOP
Is Nominated by the Congregation of the Propaganda.”
The article began: “ROME, Sept. 1 — The Congregation of the Propaganda to-day decided to recommend the Pope to appoint the Right Rev. John M. Farley, the Auxiliary Bishop of New York, as Archbishop of New York, in succession to the late Most Rev. Michael Augustine Corrigan.”
The article goes on to explain that Cardinal Gotti, “Prefect of the Propaganda,” presided over a 3 1/2-hour meeting with eight other cardinals. They discussed the recommendations of the bishops and archbishops of the U.S. as well as a group of New York priests, all of whom liked Farley for the big job.
The Times, writing up the proceedings like one might a city council meeting, noted: “The information received showed that Dr. Farley was qualified as the most worthy candidate for the post, both in the lists of the priests and Bishops and in the reports of the Archbishops of the United States. After a discussion, in which all the Cardinals present participated, Cardinal Gotti summed up the expressions of opinion of those present, with the result that the choice of Dr. Farley was unanimous.”
Then came this kicker: “The ratification of the Pope is necessary to make the appointment definite.”
The ratification of the pope!
Then it gets even more interesting. The Times reports that Farley knew he was likely to be promoted. But journalists notified him, through his secretary, that he did, in fact, get the appointment!
Farley, “while not questioning the authenticity of the report,” would wait until he gets a letter in the mail — we’re talking weeks — before reacting.
What a different world.
Cardinal Egan, in a column this year for Catholic New York, noted the process for Farley’s selection:
A scarce four months after the death of Archbishop Corrigan in May of 1902, Bishop Farley was chosen by Pope Leo XIII to be the Archbishop of New York. The choice was made after the Archbishops of the United States, the Bishops of New York, and the “Consultors and Irremovable Pastors” of the Archdiocese had all made him their first choice in formal votings. This was the last Archbishop for whom these groups were required to express a preference, inasmuch as the practice was eliminated in the 1918 Code of Canon Law.
One must wonder how Egan and other modern-day bishops would feel about sweating out such a process.
Farley, the seventh bishop (and fourth archbishop) of the then-Diocese Archdiocese of New York, would serve until his death in 1918. The Times, in fact, would report on Aug. 22, 1918, that Farley was ill “at his country home near Mamaroneck, N.Y.”
The Times, in the end, seemed to endorse Farley’s selection: “Bishop Farley has been considered the ‘logical’ candidate for the Archbishopric since the death of Archbishop Corrigan. He is perfectly familiar with the local conditions and the work of his late superior. He is a most popular official of the Church, is diplomatic, is of a very pleasing disposition, and is congenial to all his associates, both of the clergy and laity.”
A pleasing disposition and congenial to his associates. Sounds like he was a swell guy.
The picture is of a portrait of Farley hanging at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers.