In a meeting with Vatican officials, Father O’Hare said, Catholic educators stated “loud and clear that universities all around the world were concerned about not having universal prescriptions from Rome.”
Father O’Hare melded amiability with common sense.
“Joe combined Jesuit humanism with Bronx street smarts,” the author Peter Quinn, a Fordham graduate, said in an email. “He was a serious intellectual who refused to take himself too seriously. He never lost his New York accent or his Irish sense of humor. He knew how to laugh and how to lead.”
Father O’Hare’s common-sense approach became apparent to the public in his role on the finance board under Mr. Koch; David N. Dinkins, who was fined by the board for excessive spending and, at the end of his mayoralty, fired him; Mr. Giuliani, who reinstated him, but was later also fined; and Michael R. Bloomberg.
“In a city of legendary Irish pols,” Mr. Bloomberg said of Father O’Hare in a statement this week, “one of the very best never ran for office — but he left a mark on politics like no other.”
Rectitude, however, did not necessarily denote reticence.
At a finance board meeting in 2001, the irascible political consultant Hank Morris insisted that he could volunteer his services to his friend Alan G. Hevesi, who was running for mayor, and that therefore the monetary value of those services should not be covered by the legal cap on campaign spending. A verbal tussle at a public hearing culminated in Mr. Morris’s threat to take the case to court. Father O’Hare was unfazed.
“So sue me,” he retorted. “Go ahead.” Mr. Hevesi eventually paid for Mr. Morris’s services.
Jack Newfield, writing in The New York Post, characterized Father O’Hare as “the conscience of campaign finance reform and walking gravitas.”