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His Eminence 
Richard James Cushing
Cardinal Archbishop Emeritus of Boston
Mosaic depiction of Cardinal Cushing in the foyer of the Annunciation Melkite Catholic Cathedral
See Boston (emeritus)
Enthroned September 25, 1944
Reign ended September 8, 1970
Predecessor William Henry O'Connell
Successor Humberto Sousa Medeiros
Ordination May 26, 1921
Consecration June 29, 1939
Created Cardinal December 15, 1958
Other Auxiliary Bishop of Boston (1939-44)
Personal details
Born August 24, 1895(1895-08-24)
Boston, Massachusetts
Died November 2, 1970 (aged 75)
Boston, Massachusetts

Richard James Cardinal Cushing (August 24, 1895 — November 2, 1970) was an American Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Archbishop of Boston from 1944 to 1970, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1958.

Early life and ministry

The third of six children, Richard Cushing was born in South Boston to Patrick and Mary (née Dahill) Cushing. His parents were Irish immigrants; his father was from Glanworth, County Cork, and his mother from Touraneena, County Waterford. He attended Boston College High School and graduated from Boston College in 1917. After, he attended St. John's Seminary in Brighton and was later ordained to the priesthood by Cardinal William Henry O'Connell on May 26, 1921.

Cushing then served as a curate at St. Patrick's Church in Roxbury and at St. Benedict's Church in East Somerville. He was also assistant director (1922-1929) and director (1929-1944) of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, and was raised to the rank of Domestic Prelate of His Holiness on May 14, 1939.

Episcopal career

On June 10, 1939, Cushing was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Boston and Titular Bishop of Mela. Cushing received his episcopal consecration on the following June 29 from Cardinal O'Connell, with Bishops John Bertram Peterson and Thomas Emmet, SJ, serving as co-consecrators. He took as his episcopal motto: Ut Cognoscant Te ("That they may know thee").

Archbishop of Boston

Cushing was named the third Archbishop of Boston on September 25, 1944, following Cardinal O'Connell's death. During his tenure, Boston would see the excommunication of Fr. Leonard Feeney for his stringent interpretation of the Catholic doctrine that there is no salvation outside the Church. Feeney refused to back down from his position, although it has been reported that he was ultimately reconciled with the church before his death.[1] After the death of Pius XII, Cushing published a moving tribute to him.[2] 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 American 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".[3].

Cushing was created Cardinal Priest of S. Susanna by Pope John XXIII in the consistory of December 15, 1958. He was also one of the cardinal electors in the 1963 papal conclave, which selected Pope Paul VI.

The Cardinal was 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 in Washington, D.C.

The day before the funeral, he gave a televised eulogy for the assassinated President. Cushing later publicly defended Jacqueline Kennedy after her marriage to Aristotle Onassis in 1968. He subsequently received a large amount of hate mail and was contradicted by the Vatican.[4]

Biography of Pope Pius XII

In 1959, Cardinal Cushing published his only book, a biography of the late Pope Pius XII (1939-1958). 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.

Second Vatican Council

At the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) 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:

1. 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 Saviour is concerned, the rejection of the Messiah by His own, is according to Scripture, a mystery—a mystery given us for our instruction, not for our self-exaltation ... We cannot sit in judgement on the onetime leaders of Israel—God 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 Saviour 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 Saviour'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. [5]

He was deeply committed to implementing the Council's reforms and promoting renewal in the Church[6]. In an unprecedented gesture of ecumenism, he even encouraged Catholics to attend Billy Graham's crusades[7]. Cushing strongly condemned Communism, particularly the regime of Josip Broz Tito[8].

Cushing resigned as Boston's archbishop on September 8, 1970, after 25 years of service. 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."[9]


Less than two months later, he died from cancer in Boston at the age of 75 on the feast of All Souls Day, and was buried in Hanover, Massachusetts at the Portiuncula Chapel on the grounds of Cardinal Cushing Centers [7].


  • He was a member of the NAACP.
  • Cushing founded the Missionary Society of St. James the Apostle in 1958 to "serve the needs of the poorest of the poor in South America"[10].
  • He wrote the foreword for the Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition of the Bible, and gave his imprimatur to the Oxford Annotated Bible.


  • In 1947, founded St. Coletta by the Sea with sponsorship from the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi ([1]). The organization, now Cardinal Cushing Centers ([2]) continues to support developmentally disabled individuals ages 6 through the life continuum with campuses in Hanover, Massachusetts and Braintree, Massachusetts and community homes throughout the South Shore of Massachusetts.
  • The now-closed Cardinal Cushing College, a women's college in Brookline, Massachusetts, was named after him. St. Coletta's School in Hanover, where he is buried, was subsequently renamed in his honor.
  • In 1950, Richard Cardinal Cushing founded the Bon Secours Hospital, now Holy Family Hospital and Medical Center, in Methuen, Massachusetts. Through his guidance and leadership, the hospital has become one of the top Catholic hospitals in the state of Massachusetts
  • Emmanuel College's Cardinal Cushing Library Building is named in his honor. The building houses the campus' library, a lecture hall, and various classrooms.
  • Boston College has two buildings named in his honor: Cushing Hall, a freshman dormitory on the Newton Campus as well as another Cushing Hall, the home of the Connell School of Nursing.
  • St. John's Seminary (Massachusetts) has their third theology classroom named after the Cardinal: The Richard Cardinal Cushing Classroom.
  • Saint Anselm College's student center is named the Cushing Center after Cardinal Cushing.


  1. Time magazine: "Feeney Forgiven"
  2. Pope Pius XII by Richard Cushing, St. Paul Editions, Boston, 1959
  3. Boston Globe"'What Will Lake Street Think?' No Longer" December 14, 2003
  4. Time magazine "The Cardinal and Jackie", November 1, 1968
  5. Oesterreicher, pp. 197-98
  6. TIME Magazine. The Unlikely Cardinal August 21, 1964
  7. 7.0 7.1 Time magazine. Big Man in a Long Red Robe November 16, 1970
  8. Time magazine How Are Things in Yugoslavia? September 1, 1947
  9. "Change of the Guard". Time magazine. 1970-11-21.,9171,942283,00.html. 
  10. The Missionary Society of St. James the Apostle. Homepage

Episcopal succession

Template:Infobox Episcopal Succession/bishopconsecrated11Template:Infobox Episcopal Succession/bishopconsecrated12Template:Infobox Episcopal Succession/bishopconsecrated13
Episcopal Lineage
Consecrated by: William Henry O'Connell
Date of consecration: June 29, 1939
Consecrator of
Bishop Date of consecration
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
Jaime Antônio Schuck February 24, 1959
Thomas Joseph Riley December 21, 1959
William John McNaughton August 21, 1961
Preceded by
William Henry O'Connell
Archbishop of Boston
1944 – 1970
Succeeded by
Humberto Sousa Medeiros

cs:Richard James Cushing no:Richard James Cushing