Monsignor Joseph A. McCaffrey, also known as "the Bishop of Times Square," was the pastor of the Church of the Holy Cross, in New York City for 36 years, and chaplain of the New York Police Department for 30 years. A well-known crusader against crime and pornography in the Times Square area, McCaffrey helped convince Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia (1882—1947) to close down neighborhood burlesque houses.
Joseph McCaffrey attended Fordham University in the Bronx and St. Joseph's Seminary in Yonkers. He was ordained to the Catholic priesthood in 1916, and achieved the rank of Monsignor in 1941. As a chaplain in the United States Army during World War I, McCaffrey was present during battles at Soissons, Aisne-Marne, St. Mihiel, Champagne, and the Argonne in France. The army awarded McCaffrey the Silver Star and he was awarded the Croix de Guerre by the French government for his bravery and heroism.
During the 1930s, at Father McCaffrey's urging, the Church of the Holy Cross acquired a unique spot of land in Manhattan. McCaffrey convinced city officials that the space was urgently needed for neighborhood children and students of the Holy Cross School. In 1938, the New York City Parks Commission approved the purchase of the space that the church had developed, and the City Council named the plot McCaffrey Playground by a local law.
McCaffrey Playground is located on W. 43rd Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues, in the surrounding neighborhood of Hell's Kitchen.
'TIMES SQUARE BISHOP' IS DEAD
NEW YORK (AP) - Monsignor Joseph A. McCaffrey, who was known as the "Bishop of Times Square", died Saturday in Cherry Hill, N.J., where he lived in retirement. He was 80.
Msgr. McCaffrey was pastor emeritus of Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church at 331 West 42nd Street, a few blocks away from the world famous intersection, at the time of his death. He had been pastor there from 1932 until his retirement in 1968.
The church said Concelebrated Mass of the Resurrection will be offered for him there Tuesday.
He had succeeded The Rev. Francis Duffy, chaplain of the "Fighting 69th" Regiment, as pastor of the 116-year-old church and gained a reputation as a tough battler against smutty literature and practices in Times Square.
He was praised by J. Edgar Hoover for his anti-obscenity crusade.
The monsignor, who earned the Silver Star as a chaplain with the Ninth Division in France during World War I, was a police department chaplain for 30 years. He had no truck with "the awful changes in the church - young priests leading civil disobedience, going to jail, burning draft cards." He once said his Times Square area - parish was like a police beat.
Msgr. McCaffrey was born in New York City in 1890. He attended Fordham University and was ordained in 1916.
[Published in the New York Times-Picayune, August 23, 1970]
-Monsignor McCaffrey, Anti-Smut Crusader Dies-
CHERRY HILL (UPI) - Msgr. Joseph A. McCaffrey, known for his crusade against obscenity and pornographic literature in the Times Square area of New York, died Saturday of a heart attack. He was 80.
Father McCaffrey, called "the Bishop of Times Square", had lived here since his retirement in 1968.
Named pastor of Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church, New York City, in 1932, he proceeded to crusade against obscenity in the Times Square area until his retirement.
Father McCaffrey preached against sale of smut, criticized vendors of what he claimed were filthy books and got former Mayor Fiorello La Guardia to close down burlesque houses.
Cardinal Terence Cooke will officiate at a Concelebrated Mass of the Resurection for Father McCaffrey Tuesday at 10 a.m. at Holy Cross.
"An old fashioned guy with old fashioned ideas." was the way Father McCaffrey would describe himself. He deplored some of the changes in the church, including priests going to jail for civil disobedience.
An Army chaplain during World War One and chaplain of the New York City Police Department here from 1924 to 1954, he once received a standing ovation at the annual communion breakfast of the police department's Holy Name Society when he lashed out at "unwashed bums, throwing bombs in the street".
Father McCaffrey was born on March 11, 1890 in New York. He attended Fordham University and ST. Joseph's Seminary in Yonkers.
He was ordained in 1916, elevated to monsignor in 1941 and to the domestic prelacy in 1943 with the title of right reverend.
[Published in the Trenton Evening Times, August 24, 1970]
Sponsored by Ancestry