Richard Cushing

Last updated

Richard James Cushing
Cardinal, Archbishop of Boston
See Boston
InstalledSeptember 25, 1944
Term endedSeptember 8, 1970
Predecessor William Henry O'Connell
Successor Humberto Sousa Medeiros
Other post(s) Cardinal-Priest of Santa Susanna
OrdinationMay 26, 1921
by  William Henry O'Connell
ConsecrationJune 29, 1939
by William Henry O'Connell
Created cardinalDecember 15, 1958
by John XXIII
Personal details
Richard James Cushing

(1895-08-24)August 24, 1895
DiedNovember 2, 1970(1970-11-02) (aged 75)
Boston, Massachusetts
Previous post(s)
MottoUt Cognoscant Te
(That they may know thee)
Coat of arms Coat of arms of Richard James Cushing.svg
Ordination history of
Richard Cushing
Episcopal consecration
Consecrated by William Henry O'Connell (Boston)
DateJune 29, 1939
Episcopal succession
Bishops consecrated by Richard Cushing as principal consecrator
Edward Francis Ryan January 3, 1945
Louis Francis Kelleher June 8, 1945
John Joseph Wright June 30, 1947
Eric Francis MacKenzie September 14, 1950
Thomas Francis Markham September 14, 1950
Jeremiah Francis Minihan September 8, 1954
George Hamilton Pearce June 29, 1956
Harold William Henry May 11, 1957
Jaime Antônio Schuck February 24, 1959
Thomas Joseph Riley December 21, 1959
William John McNaughton August 21, 1961
Samuel Emmanuel Carter April 25, 1966
James Burke, O.P. May 25, 1967
Daniel Anthony Cronin September 12, 1968

Richard James Cushing (August 24, 1895 – November 2, 1970) was an American prelate of the Catholic Church. He served as Archbishop of Boston from 1944 to 1970 and was made a cardinal in 1958. Cushing's main role was as fundraiser and builder of new churches, schools, and institutions. Unlike his predecessor, he was on good terms with practically the entire Boston elite, as he softened the traditional confrontation between the Catholic Irish and the Protestant upper-class. He built useful relationships with Jews, Protestants, and institutions outside the usual Catholic community. He helped presidential candidate John F. Kennedy deflect fears of papal interference in American government if a Catholic became president.


Cushing's high energy level allowed him to meet with many people all day, often giving lengthy speeches at night. He was not efficient at business affairs, and when expenses built up he counted on his fundraising skills instead of cost-cutting. Cushing, says Nasaw, was "fun-loving, informal, and outgoing. He looked rather like a tough, handsome, Irish cop and behaved more like a ward politician than a high church cleric." [1] His major weakness in retrospect was overexpansion, adding new institutions that could not be sustained in the long run and had to be cut back by his successors. [2]

Early life and education

Cushing was born in City Point, South Boston on August 24, 1895. [3] The third of five children, he was the son of Patrick and Mary (née Dahill) Cushing. [4] His parents were both Irish immigrants; his father was originally from Glanworth, County Cork, and his mother from Touraneena, County Waterford. [5] His father, who came to the United States in 1880, [6] worked as a blacksmith and earned $18 per week in the trolley repair pits of the Boston Elevated Railway. [7]

Cardinal Cushing with newly ordained Priests of the Archdiocese of Boston in 1960. CushingOrdinations6 (7269216102).jpg
Cardinal Cushing with newly ordained Priests of the Archdiocese of Boston in 1960.

Cushing received his early education at Perry Public Grammar School in South Boston, since there was then no parochial school for boys in Gate of Heaven Parish. [8] Cushing dropped out of high school in his freshman year because of his compulsive truancy. [7] He subsequently entered Boston College High School, a Jesuit college preparatory school. [4] His tuition there was paid by his cousin, who was a priest of the Archdiocese of New York. He graduated from high school in 1913, receiving honors for Latin and Greek. Cushing was torn for a time between religion and politics. [7] He originally wanted to be a politician, even earning money by speaking for politicians from the back of wagons. [6] He twice considered joining the Jesuits, [6] but came to the conclusion he "was cut out more for the active life and not the teaching apostolate."[ citation needed ]

He entered Boston College in 1913, becoming a member of the first freshman class following the college's move to Chestnut Hill. [3] At Boston College, he was active in the Marquette Debating Society and elected vice-president of his sophomore class. Following the sinking of the RMS Lusitania in 1915, Cushing enlisted in the United States Army but was medically discharged for his asthma after a few weeks. After attending Boston College for two years, he began his studies for the priesthood at St. John's Seminary in Brighton in September 1915. [4] He was assigned to continue his studies at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, but the escalation of U-boat activity prevented him from sailing across the Atlantic.[ citation needed ]


On May 26, 1921, Cushing was ordained a priest by Cardinal William Henry O'Connell at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. [9] His first assignment was as a curate at St. Patrick's Church in Roxbury, where he remained for two months. He was afterwards transferred to St. Benedict's Church in Somerville. In 1922, he appeared unannounced at the residence of Cardinal O'Connell to request an assignment as a missionary. [4] The young priest declared he wanted to "take heaven by storm." [6] O'Connell denied his request, and instead appointed him assistant director of the Boston office of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, an organization dedicated to raising funds for missions. [3] He later served as director of the Society from 1929 to 1944. [3] He was raised to the rank of Monsignor on May 14, 1939. [3]

Episcopal career

On June 10, 1939, after Bishop Francis Spellman was named Archbishop of New York, Cushing was appointed, at the request of Cardinal O'Connell, as Auxiliary Bishop of Boston and titular bishop of Mela by Pope Pius XII. [9] He received his episcopal consecration on the following June 29 from Cardinal O'Connell, at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, with bishops John Bertram Peterson and Thomas Addis Emmet, SJ, serving as co-consecrators. [9] Cushing took as his episcopal motto: Ut Cognoscant Te (Latin: "That they may know thee").[ citation needed ]

As an auxiliary bishop, Cushing continued to serve as director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, and was also named pastor of Sacred Heart Church [10] in Newton Centre. Following the death of Cardinal O'Connell in April 1944, he served as apostolic administrator of the archdiocese. [3]

Archbishop of Boston

Cushing was named the third Archbishop of Boston on September 25, 1944, following the death of Cardinal O'Connell and honoring his earlier request that Cushing succeed him. During Cushing's tenure, Boston would see the excommunication of Fr. Leonard Feeney for repeated refusals to be summoned to Rome. Feeney refused to back down from his position, although it has been reported that he was ultimately reconciled with the Church before his death. [11]

After the death of Pius XII, Cushing published a moving tribute to him. [12] In 1959, Cushing published a biography of the late Pope Pius XII (1939–1958), depicting the late pope as "Pope of Peace". His work contributed to making the Roman Catholic Church acceptable to the general population at the time of then-Senator John F. Kennedy's run for the White House. Part of this work included reaching out to the non-Catholics of Boston after "the muscular style of involved Catholicism that Cardinal O'Connell brought to bear on issues of his day - religious, social, and political - in Boston and Massachusetts". [13] Cushing was honored by B’nai B’rith as "Man of the Year" in 1956 for "a lifetime of distinguished service to the cause of human brotherhood under God and in further recognition of great leadership in the fields of education and community relations." [14] He was a close correspondent with Robert E. Segal, longtime executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Metropolitan Boston, who played a key role in Jewish-Catholic relations in Boston. [15] As well as this, Cushing maintained close contacts with Abram L. Sachar of Brandeis University. From the very start of Cushing's tenure as Archbishop of Boston, there was a major change in the relationship between official Bostonian Catholicism and Judaism, where there had previously been much mutual suspicion, Cushing sought closer relations. [15] The author James Carroll has attributed Cushing's outlook to the (non-Catholic) marriage between his sister Dolly Cushing and a local Jewish haberdasherer, Dick Pearlstein. At the time this was very uncommon. [16]

Cushing (left) with Boston Mayor John F. Collins at the groundbreaking of Boston City Hall New City Hall groundbreaking with Cardinal Richard Cushing and Mayor John F. Collins (12774785163).jpg
Cushing (left) with Boston Mayor John F. Collins at the groundbreaking of Boston City Hall

Cushing was created Cardinal-Priest of Santa Susanna by the decision of Pope John XXIII in the consistory of December 15, 1958. He was one of the cardinal electors in the 1963 papal conclave, which elected Pope Paul VI. A close friend of the Kennedy family, he officiated at the marriage of John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Lee Bouvier in 1953, at which he also read a special prayer from Pope Pius XII, and baptized many of the Kennedy children. Cushing gave the prayer invocation at Kennedy's inauguration in 1961. The Cardinal also celebrated President Kennedy's funeral Mass in 1963 at St. Matthew's Cathedral, Washington, D.C., following Kennedy's assassination in Dallas, Texas. The day before the funeral, he gave a televised eulogy for the President. Cushing later defended Jacqueline Kennedy after her marriage to Aristotle Onassis in 1968. He received a large amount of hate mail and was contradicted by the Vatican. [17]

The Boston Globe reported on June 5, 2002 that Church documents released the prior day show the Boston Archdiocese had knowledge of sexual misconduct by several priests who were allowed to remain in active ministry despite complaints. The documents show Cardinal Richard Cushing, who led the Boston archdiocese for 25 years until 1971, approved the moving of at least two priests into new parishes during the 1960s despite allegations of sexual misconduct. [18]

Biography of Pope Pius XII

In 1959, Cushing published his only book, a biography of the late Pope Pius XII (1939–58). It is an almost hagiographic biography, written shortly after the death of the Pontiff. Cushing depicted him as the "Pope of Peace" who, armed only with the spiritual weapons of his office, triumphed over insidious attacks that seemed about to destroy the center of Christendom.[ citation needed ]

Second Vatican Council

At the Second Vatican Council (1962–65), Cushing played a vital role in drafting Nostra aetate , the document that officially absolved the Jews of deicide charge. His emotional comments during debates over the drafts were echoed in the final version:

We must cast the Declaration on the Jews in a much more positive form, one not so timid, but much more loving ... For the sake of our common heritage we, the children of Abraham according to the spirit, must foster a special reverence and love for the children of Abraham according to the flesh. As children of Adam, they are our kin, as children of Abraham they are Christ's blood relatives. 2. So far as the guilt of Jews in the death of our Savior is concerned, the rejection of the Messiah by His own, is according to Scripture, a mysterya mystery given us for our instruction, not for our self-exaltation ... We cannot sit in judgement on the onetime leaders of IsraelGod alone is their judge. Much less can we burden later generations of Jews with any burden of guilt for the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus, for the death of the Savior of the world, except that universal guilt in which we all have a part ... In clear and unmistakable language, we must deny, therefore, that the Jews are guilty of our Savior's death. We must condemn especially those who seek to justify, as Christian deeds, discrimination, hatred and even persecution of Jews ... 3. I ask myself, Venerable Brothers, whether we should not humbly acknowledge before the whole world that, toward their Jewish brethren, Christians have all too often not shown themselves as true Christians, as faithful followers of Christ. How many [Jews] have suffered in our own time? How many died because Christians were indifferent and kept silent? ... If in recent years, not many Christian voices were raised against those injustices, at least let ours now be heard in humility. [19]

He was deeply committed to implementing the Council's reforms and promoting renewal in the Church. [20] In an unprecedented gesture of ecumenism, he encouraged Catholics to attend Billy Graham's crusades. [21] Cushing strongly condemned Communism, particularly the regime of Josip Broz Tito in Yugoslavia. [22]

Due to advanced illnesses Cushing's resignation as Boston's archbishop was accepted on September 8, 1970. Upon his resignation, Senator Ted Kennedy stated: "For three-quarters of a century [Cushing's] life has been a light in a world that cries out for illumination. He will never have to account for his stewardship, for if his goodness is not known to God, no one's ever will be." [23]


Less than two months after his resignation, on November 2, 1970 (the feast of All Souls Day), Cushing died peacefully in his sleep of cancer at the Cardinal's Residence in Brighton, Massachusetts, aged 75. He was surrounded by his brother and sisters and his successor, Archbishop Humberto Medeiros. Cushing was buried in Hanover, Massachusetts at the Portiuncula Chapel on the grounds of the Cardinal Cushing Centers. [24] [25] [26]




This is an incomplete list of the various writings of Richard Cardinal Cushing:


Works on Richard Cardinal Cushing

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pope John XXIII</span> Head of the Catholic Church from 1958 to 1963

Pope John XXIII was head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State from 28 October 1958 until his death in 1963. Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli was one of thirteen children born to Marianna Mazzola and Giovanni Battista Roncalli in a family of sharecroppers who lived in Sotto il Monte, a village in the province of Bergamo, Lombardy. He was ordained to the priesthood on 10 August 1904 and served in a number of posts, as nuncio in France and a delegate to Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey. In a consistory on 12 January 1953 Pope Pius XII made Roncalli a cardinal as the Cardinal-Priest of Santa Prisca in addition to naming him as the Patriarch of Venice. Roncalli was unexpectedly elected pope on 28 October 1958 at age 76 after 11 ballots. Pope John XXIII surprised those who expected him to be a caretaker pope by calling the historic Second Vatican Council (1962–1965), the first session opening on 11 October 1962.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pope Pius XII</span> Head of the Catholic Church from 1939 to 1958

Pope Pius XII, born Eugenio Maria Giuseppe Giovanni Pacelli, was head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State from 2 March 1939 until his death in 1958. Before his election to the papacy, he served as secretary of the Department of Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs, papal nuncio to Germany, and Cardinal Secretary of State, in which capacity he worked to conclude treaties with European and Latin American nations, such as the Reichskonkordat with the German Reich.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Francis Spellman</span> American Catholic cardinal and bishop

Francis Joseph Spellman was an American bishop and cardinal of the Catholic Church. From 1939 until his death in 1967, he served as the sixth Archbishop of New York; he had previously served as an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Boston from 1932 through 1939. He was created a cardinal in 1946.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Albert Gregory Meyer</span>

Albert Gregory Meyer was an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as archbishop of the Archdiocese of Chicago in Illinois from 1958 until his death in 1965, and was appointed a cardinal in 1959. He previously served as archbishop of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee in Wisconsin from 1953 to 1958 and as bishop of the Diocese of Superior in Wisconsin from 1946 to 1953.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">James Francis McIntyre</span>

James Francis Aloysius McIntyre was an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Archbishop of Los Angeles from 1948 to 1970, and was created a cardinal in 1953. He was a highly successful builder of new parishes, churches, and schools. He was notable in Church politics, and his reputation remains highly controversial.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">William Henry O'Connell</span>

William Henry O'Connell was an American cardinal of the Catholic Church. He served as Archbishop of Boston from 1907 until his death in 1944, and was made a cardinal in 1911.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Joseph Ritter</span> Roman Catholic cardinal from the United States

Joseph Elmer Ritter was an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as archbishop of the Archdiocese of St. Louis in Missouri from 1946 until his death in 1967, and was created a cardinal in 1961. He previously served as auxiliary bishop (1933–34) and bishop (1934–46) of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis in Indiana. Ritter was one of the cardinals elector who participated at the Papal Conclave,1963.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Seán Patrick O'Malley</span> Roman Catholic Archbishop of Boston

Seán Patrick O'Malley is an American cardinal of the Catholic Church serving as the archbishop of Boston. He is a member of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin and was elevated to the rank of cardinal in 2006.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston</span> Latin Catholic ecclesiastical jurisdiction in the U.S.

The Archdiocese of Boston is a Latin Church ecclesiastical territory or archdiocese of the Catholic Church located in the New England region of the United States. Its territorial remit encompasses the whole of Essex County, Middlesex County, Norfolk County, and Suffolk County, and also all of Plymouth County except the towns of Marion, Mattapoisett, and Wareham in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It is led by a prelate archbishop who serves as pastor of the mother church, Cathedral of the Holy Cross in the South End of Boston. The Archdiocese of Boston is a metropolitan see with six suffragan dioceses: the Dioceses of Burlington, Fall River, Manchester, Portland in Maine, Springfield in Massachusetts, and Worcester.

John Joseph McEleney, S.J. was an American prelate of the Catholic Church. He was the first Bishop and first Archbishop of Kingston, serving between 1956 and 1970. He previously served as president of Fairfield University (1942–44) and Vicar Apostolic of Jamaica (1950–56).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Leonard Feeney</span> American poet

Leonard Edward Feeney was an American Jesuit priest, poet, lyricist, and essayist.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bernard Joseph Flanagan</span>

Bernard Joseph Flanagan was an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as bishop of the Diocese of Norwich in Connecticut (1953–1959) and as bishop of the Diocese of Worcester in Massachusetts (1959–1983).

Moses Elias Kiley was a Canadian-born prelate of the Catholic Church. He served as the bishop of the Diocese of Trenton, New Jersey (1934–1940) and the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, Wisconsin (1940–1953).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Daniel Cronin (bishop)</span> Catholic archbishop

Daniel Anthony Cronin is an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as bishop of the Diocese of Fall River in Massachusetts from 1970 to 1992, and as archbishop of the Archdiocese of Hartford in Connecticut from 1992 to 2003.

Edward Francis Ryan was an American prelate of the Catholic Church. He served as bishop of the Diocese of Burlington in Vermont from 1945 until his death in 1956.

John Bertram Peterson was an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as bishop of the Diocese of Manchester in New Hampshire from 1932 until his death in 1944. He previously served as an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Boston in Massachusetts from 1927 to 1932

Thomas Joseph Riley was an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Boston from 1959 to 1976.

Jeremiah Francis Minihan was an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Boston from 1954 until his death in 1973.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mark O'Connell (bishop)</span>

Mark William O'Connell is a Canadian-born American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. As of 2016, he is an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Boston for the north region of the archdiocese.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Charles A. Finn</span> American priest

Monsignor Charles Alphonsus "Zip" Finn was a priest of the Archdiocese of Boston. At the time of his death, he was the oldest priest in the United States, the oldest alumnus of Boston College, and the Pontifical North American College, and the oldest Knight of Columbus.


  1. David Nasaw, The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy (2012) pp 625-27
  2. Robert Muccigrosso, ed., Research Guide to American Historical Biography (1988) 5:2466-9
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Miranda, Salvador. "CUSHING, Richard James (1895-1970)". The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church. Florida International University. OCLC   53276621.
  4. 1 2 3 4 "Cardinal Cushing Dies in Boston at 75". The New York Times . November 3, 1970.
  5. "The Catholic Church in Massachusetts (XXI.2)". OBLATVS.
  6. 1 2 3 4 "The Unlikely Cardinal". Time Magazine . August 21, 1964. Archived from the original on August 30, 2008.
  7. 1 2 3 "Cushing: Ecumenical Leader, Kennedys' Friend, Communists' Foe". The New York Times . September 9, 1970.
  8. "Gate of Heaven - History". Archived from the original on March 24, 2011. Retrieved April 28, 2010.
  9. 1 2 3 "Richard James Cardinal Cushing".
  10. "WEBSITE.WS - Your Internet Address For Life™".
  11. "Religion: Feeney Forgiven". October 14, 1974. Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved July 12, 2020.
  12. Pope Pius XII by Richard Cushing, St. Paul Editions, Boston, 1959.
  13. Boston Globe "'What Will Lake Street Think?' No Longer",, December 14, 2003
  14. "Archbishop of Boston Honored by B'nai B'rith As "man of the Year"". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. February 16, 1956. Retrieved October 22, 2019.
  15. 1 2 Goldstein, Jenny (April 24, 2001). "Transcending Boundaries: Boston's Catholics and Jews, 1929-1965". Retrieved January 10, 2021.
  16. Caroll, James. (2005). What would Cardinal Cushing do?. The Boston Globe
  17. "The Cardinal and Jackie",, November 1, 1968.
  18. "Boston Globe / Spotlight / Abuse in the Catholic Church / Scandal and coverup".
  19. Oesterreicher, pp. 197-98
  20. TIME Magazine. The Unlikely Cardinal August 21, 1964
  21. Time magazine. Big Man in a Long Red Robe November 16, 1970]
  22. How Are Things in Yugoslavia?,, September 1, 1947.
  23. "Change of the Guard". Time magazine . November 21, 1970. Archived from the original on October 30, 2010.
  24. "Cardinal Cushing Centers".
  25. "Jewish Leaders Express Sorrow at Death of Cardinal Cushing". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. November 4, 1970. Retrieved October 22, 2019.
  26. "Cardinal Cushing, 75, Dies Catholics Mourn Prelate". November 3, 1970. Retrieved October 22, 2019.
  27. "Welcome to the Missionary Society of St. James the Apostle". Archived from the original on December 19, 2005. Retrieved January 17, 2022.
  28. "Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi |".
  29. "Home". Cardinal Cushing Centers.
  30. Marchetti, Juan Carlos Zambrana (November 2, 2019). "Bolivia. Un Cristo contra el indio". Resumen Latinoamericano. Retrieved November 2, 2019.

Further reading

Commons-logo.svg Media related to Richard James Cushing at Wikimedia Commons

Episcopal succession

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by Archbishop of Boston
1944 1970
Succeeded by