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CARDINAL O'CONNOR CHIPPER AT AWARDS EVENT

Cardinal John O'Connor stood throughout his keynote address and seemed in good spirits Friday at a St. John's University School of Law luncheon, during which he was awarded a St. Thomas More award for moral leadership.

The 80-year-old archbishop, who has been frail and unable to stand for long periods, even joked about his puffy appearance since he had a brain tumor removed in August.

"After all these years of my life, I wondered what in the world this thing was for; it just seemed to me to be the strangest garment that anyone could devise," he said, gesturing toward his red cap and black and red robes. "And then I learned that it covers a multitude of sins -- and a tremendous amount of fat."

"They tell me one day the fat will disappear. I'm not sure about the sins," he added, to laughter and applause from the hundreds of university alumni gathered at the New York Hilton in Manhattan.

The cardinal, who already holds an honorary doctor of laws degree from the university, was presented with a crystal bowl to commemorate his more recent honor. His keynote address focused on the importance of love and justice and his horror at abortion.

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