Biographies: Richard Cardinal Cushing (United States, 1895-70)

Figure 1.--Here we see Cardinal Cushing helping a child to walk at an unidentified Catholic hospital in 1984. The Cardinal played an important role in bringing Catholics into the American mainstream.

Richard Cardinal Cushing was born in South Boston (1895). His parents were Irish immigrants. He was one of the most important prelates of the American Roman Catholic Church. He was the long serving Archbishop of Boston. Richard was educated in a Boston public school. There was no parochial school in the diosee at the time. He at first was more inclined to politics, but eventually chose the church. During his tenure, Boston would see the excommunication of Fr. Leonard Feeney for his belief of the Catholic doctrine that there is no salvation outside the Church. This of course opened the Church for a more positive relationship with other faiths. He was elevated to cardinal (1958). He proved to be a highly effective fundraiser and builder of churches, schools, and other Catholic institutions. Cushing was in many ways the major face of the Catholic Church in America. He played an important role in bringing the Catholic Church into the American mainstream. America when Cushing was born was still a very Protestant country. Governor Al Smith showed when he ran for president that many American still question the loyalty of Catholic (1928). Before he died, Catholic Senator John Kennedy was elected president. Cushing began that transition in Boston. He worked hard at developing good relations with the entire Boston elite, includung the Protestant estavlishment. He worked at ending the traditional animosity with the Potestant upper-class that had dominated the city. Cushing managed to build rewarding relationships with Jews, Protestants, and civic institutions outside the Catholic community. He played a role in assisting Senator Kennedy refute fears of papal interference in American politics. Cushing was a high energy prelate. He actively met with people from all walks of life daily and spoke frequently to various gatherings. He has been described as a '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.' [Nasaw, pp. 625-27.] The major criticism of Cushing was his business acumen. This led him to found and build institutions that the Church did not have the financial ability to support.


Nasaw, David. The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy (2012).


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Created: 1:09 AM 3/14/2019
Last updated: 1:09 AM 3/14/2019