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Richard Cardinal Cushing, Archbishop of Boston, said yesterday that he will offer his resignation to the Pope, effective this year, because of the abuse and criticism he has received for defending Jacqueline Kennedy's marriage to Aristotle Onassis.
"I propose after the publicity I have received in recent days in my own native city which has gone all over the world, to offer my resignation to his Holiness, Pope Paul VI, effective the end of this year," the 73-year-old prelate said in a radio interview. Cushing said he had received volumes of "hate mail" after urging charity for Mrs. Onassis, whose marital position is deemed dubious by the Vatican.
The Cardinal had previously planned to resign in 1970, when he will be 75-years-old. In recent years the pope has encouraged older cardinals to resign so that younger men may assume the posts.
When Cushing resigns as cardinal, it is likely that he will go to Latin America as an ordinary missionary-priest--a desire which he has often voiced in the past.
Cushing's earlier declaration that "Jacqueline Kennedy is free to marry whomever she wishes," caused dissension among American Catholics. Liberals praised it as being in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council, while conservatives grumbled that Cushing was condoning public sin.
Cushing, a long-time friend of the Kennedy family, denied reports that Mrs. Onassis sent him a transatlantic telephone call thanking him for the defense.
Though Cushing denied that he felt Mrs. Onassis could continue to receive the Catholic sacraments, he said, "I continue to plead for charity."
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