This is Cardinal Richard Cushing who was the Vatican's man in Boston between 1944 and 1970.

To be fair he seems to have been a reasonably decent bloke. He was one of the prime movers for reform in Vatican II and played a vital role in drafting Nostra Aetate, the document that officially absolved the Jews of deicide charge. The final version of the document reflects his passion and words during the debates that preceded its publication.

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.

He also had far more sympathy with ecumenism than is currently "allowed" in his denomination. He even encouraged Catholics to attend Billy Graham's crusades.



  1. I knew him—and he was more like a “man of the street”, than a “prince of the church”. He was sort of “gruff” and in no way piss-elegant like others. One sort of felt that a person could swear a bit in front of him without having to apologize.

  2. There is a wonderful story about Cardinal Cushing I heard when I was a graduate student in Boston in the early 1960s. Cushing was invited to speak at one of the famous Fourth of July celebrations in Boston on July 4th. There was a glitch in the schedule, and just as Cardinal Cushing ascended to the podium, the fireworks display started. For nearly 30 minutes, the sky blazed with light and sound as the pyrotechnics program went on. Finally, there was the thunderous finale, continuous blasts and blossoms of light, ending with a last tremendous boom from the last salute. Cushing looked out over the audience, who were not really wanting to face another speech, and said, “And in conclusion…..” He brought down the house.

  3. [Just to comment re the lace]

    Wow: I’ve seen effeminate lace before . . . this one positively suggests Pregnancy-Envy! O_o

  4. He was amazing. In the mid-60’s he was in great part responsible for a concelbrated Mass/Eucharist at Christ Church Cambridge (Episcopal) with Catholic Clergy and the visiting Papal Nuncio. Talk about ecumenism!

  5. He was a pastor and friend to Jackie Kennedy and publicly defended her when she was criticized for her remarriage to Aristotle Onassis. I’ve always respected him for that.

  6. In 1969 I made a courtesy call on the RC Chaplain at the Tufts U. Newman House. I was the new Episcopal chaplain on campus. The Paulist Father greeted me and said that he had been anticipating my visit. He took me on a tour of the House – chapel, etc. and then showed me my new office, advising that we ara going to have an ecumenical ministry from now on. He went on to describe how we were going to share the daily Mass rota and that I would frequently take the RC rite and he would take the Episcopal rite.’
    We went to his office to chat further, my head spinning because none of this was in my wildest dream. I said to him “Fitz, what will the Cardinal say?” He said let’s find out and with that he phoned him. I could hear Cushing’s voice across the room as George Fitzgerald described what he had shared with me and his plans for concelebrations on feast days, daily Mass rota exchanges, etc. The Cardinal replied, ‘Fitz I think it is great. Please don’t give me any more details, just do it.”
    When the Cardinal died and his successor had been in office for a few weeks, the chancery closed down the arrangement. How sweet it was while it lasted as the Newman and Canterbury ministries worked together. Blessed is Richard of Boston!

    Bob McCloskey

  7. In the painting, he certainly has a more affable and gentle face than most cardinals, bishops, whatever that Rome produces.

    He also lacks that sort of lupine leer that most pass off as a smile.

  8. He was indeed a decent bloke. Like many who helped make Vatican II a moment of hope. His successors (especially Cardinal Law) as the successors in Rome have killed that hope.