This idea of saying she's excommunicated, that she's a public sinnerwhat a lot of nonsense. Only God knows who is a sinner and who is not. Why can't she marry whomever she wants?
The speaker defending Jackie Kennedy's marriage to Aristotle Onassis was no gossip columnist or punditindeed, few society reporters were so disposed. He was Richard Cardinal Cushing, Archbishop of Boston, Prince of the Holy Roman Church andas it turned out last weekforemost a friend in need.
The cardinal made his defense of Jackie at a meeting of Boston's Caritas Guild, composed of the city's licensed beverage executives, and he chose that platform to stress caritascharity. As Cushing knows, it is one of the most elusive of virtues. Two days after his speech, he announced that the volume of hate mail he had received as a consequence, some of it "in the language of the gutter," had persuaded him to resign his see at the end of this year instead of his previous target date, August 1970.
The emotional defense of Jackie by Cushingwho had presided at her first wedding in 1953 and at John Kennedy's funeral ten years laterwas not very well received in Rome either. Before Cushing spoke out, the Vatican's chief press officer, Monsignor Fausto Vallainc, had expressed the church's official view that Jackie had "knowingly violated the law of the church" and was ineligible to receive the sacraments. Although reluctant to dispute a cardinal, Vatican theologians simply reiterated their interpretation of the church's law after Cushing's statement.
Totally Unpredictable. In announcing his decision to resign well ahead of schedule, Cushing complained that 98% of the mail he had received since his statement to the Caritas Guild had condemned his stand. The cardinal sentimentally pointed out that his own sister had married a Jew outside the church and that, while Mrs. Onassis might not be able to receive the sacraments, "she should continue all the private devotions she had as a Catholic."
It was the third time that Cushing had publicly announced his intention to resign. A product of Boston's once-Irish urban ghetto, he was named Archbishop of the city in 1944, and subsequently proved to be one of the great school and church builders of American Catholicism. Affectionately human and totally unpredictable, Cushing was, more importantly, a pioneer ecumenicist in the open style of Pope John, a maverick prelate who found it possible, at various times, to endorse both the John Birch Society and the N.A.A.C.P. In poor health for many yearsand, at 73, only two years away from the age limit suggested for episcopal resignations by Pope PaulCushing had good reason to ask to be relieved of duty. The Pope is said to have a high regard for Cushing and may well decide to refuse his resignation. On the other hand, if the cardinal mentioned illness or fatigue in his formal request to Paul, that might persuade the Vatican this time to accede to his wishes.