Friday, October 24, 2008

William Cardinal O'Connell

He was born in 1859 and died in 1944.
Ordained a priest in 1884.
Rector of the North American College in Rome in 1895.
Bishop of Portland from 1901 to 1906
Archbishop of Boston from 1907 to 1944.
Elevated to the cardinalate in 1911 with the title of S. Clemente.

O'Connell managed to be late to two papal conclaves in a row, in 1914 and 1922, due to having to cross the Atlantic Ocean in the slower transportation of the day. He made a protest to Pope Pius XI, who in response lengthened the time between the death of the Pope and the start of the conclave. O'Connell was able to participate in the subsequent 1939 conclave.

Until today I have of numerous scandals surrounding this prelate, the one involving his married nephew (who sadly also was a priest) probably being the best known. How many of these 'scandals' really happened I cannot say, because when it comes to unveiling the 'evil' O'Connell all the biographical material I could lay my hands on so far offers nothing but "It seems that...", "there are suspicions...", "allegedly..." and so on.

'Scholars' seem to agree however that O'Connell reigned the archdiocese with a firm hand and had such a huge influence in the state that politicians - referring to him as "number one" - often sought his approval before taking action on particular issues.

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