Archbishop Hannan of New Orleans dies

Sept. 29, 2011 at 12:37 PM   |   Comments

NEW ORLEANS, Sept. 29 (UPI) -- Archbishop Philip Matthew Hannan, who headed the diocese of New Orleans for almost 25 years, died early Thursday. He was 98.

Hannan remained active long after his retirement and well into his 90s, The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune reported. In his later years, a series of small strokes left him frail and he never completely recovered from a bout of pneumonia in December, moving into Chateau de Notre Dame, a church-run continuing care community, where he died.

The son of Irish immigrants, Hannan grew up in Washington and was ordained at the North American College in Rome. He enlisted as an Army chaplain in 1941 and became known as the Jumping Padre of the 82nd Airborne.

Back in Washington, Hannan became close to a young congressman, John F. Kennedy. He delivered eulogies for President Kennedy in 1963 and U.S. Sen. Robert Kennedy in 1968 and presided at Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis's burial in 1994.

Hannan became archbishop of New Orleans in 1965, when the city was struggling to recover from Hurricane Betsy. He became known as a social activist who helped thousands of refugees settle in the area and left a legacy of Catholic institutions dedicated to helping the needy.

In later years, Hannan was caught up in some of the controversies in the church. In 1996, he said Catholics who voted for President Bill Clinton or Mary Landrieu would be committing a sin because of their views on abortion. Clinton was re-elected and Landrieu, D-La., became a U.S. senator.

Hannan was also accused of covering up a potential scandal while he still headed the diocese involving a priest accused of possessing child pornography.

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