O'Boyle, Patrick A.
O'BOYLE, PATRICK A.
First resident archbishop of Wash., D.C., cardinal; b. July 18, 1896, Scranton, Pa.; d. Aug. 10, 1987, Washington, D.C. He graduated from St. Thomas College (later renamed the University of Scranton), and St. Joseph's Seminary in Yonkers, N.Y. Ordained in New York's St. Patrick's Cathedral on May 21, 1921, by Patrick Cardinal hayes, Father O'Boyle's first assignment was to St. Columba's parish in Manhattan, south of the infamous Hell's Kitchen, where he saw and experienced the urban version of the hard life.
Early Charitable Work. His work among the parish poor caught the eye of Cardinal Hayes, who gave him the first of a series of assignments concerned with the cause of the needy. In 1933, he was appointed assistant director of the Children's Division of the New York Catholic Charities; he supervised various Catholic charitable organizations and child care agencies, notably the Mission of the Immaculate Virgin on Staten Island, one of the country's largest child care institutions with more than 1,100 children enrolled. During this same period, he was a faculty member at Fordham University School of Social Work. In 1941, he was named assistant director of New York's Catholic Charities, and in 1943, he became director of War Relief Services of the National Catholic Welfare Conference (1946–48). He served as director of Catholic Charities of New York.
Archbishop. On Nov. 15, 1947, Monsignor O'Boyle was named the first residential ordinary of the archdiocese of Washington, D.C. The Washington archdiocese had been created in 1939, but it had remained united with the archdiocese of Baltimore until Archbishop O'Boyle was appointed ordinary. (It was the first time in the United States that a priest had been named an archbishop without first serving as a bishop.)
Ordained to the episcopacy in January of 1948, O'Boyle was installed in St. Matthew's Cathedral as archbishop of Washington on Jan. 21, 1948. During his 25-year tenure as archbishop, the number of Catholics in the archdiocese more than doubled. The number of parishes increased by 50, and 317 buildings were constructed under his leadership, including schools to educate the children of the postwar baby boom; St. Ann's Infant and Maternity home for unwed mothers and their babies; Carroll Manor for the elderly; and the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Institute to serve the mentally handicapped.
One of his first acts as archbishop was to order the desegregation of Catholic schools and churches, an order that The Washington Post called "one of the most influential acts of moral leadership in this city's history." The desegregation of the Catholic schools began six years before the Supreme Court outlawed segregation in the public schools in its historic Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954. He also spoke out forcefully in support of racial justice and equality during the 1960s and 1970s and earned a reputation as an outspoken friend of those who were being denied basic human and civil rights.
Archbishop O'Boyle attended all the sessions of the Second vatican council. He was elected to the Commission on Seminaries, Universities and Catholic Schools, where he played a significant role in shaping the Declaration of Christian Education (Gravissimum educationis ). In a formal intervention during the final session, he urged greater sensitivity to Jewish feelings "out of consideration of truth and charity," and he recommended several changes in the wording of the declaration concerning Jews and non-Christians. In the final session, as chairman of the Administrative Board of the National Catholic Welfare Conference, he spoke "in the name of all the bishops of the United States gathered in Rome," urging that schema 13 (later to emerge as Gaudium et spes ) contain a condemnation of racism and racial discrimination in all its forms.
Cardinal. He was created cardinal on June 28, 1967, by Pope paul vi and given his titular church, St. Nicholas in Carcere. By reason of his position as ordinary of the Archdiocese of Washington, O'Boyle was also chancellor of The Catholic University of America. Although inclined to be less involved in university affairs than previous chancellors had been, he intervened at critical periods, during the early 1960s, for example, in order to insure the success of the New Catholic Encyclopedia, and during the spring of 1967, when a nationally publicized protest of faculty against an action of the trustees had led to a week-long suspension of classes. He was a keen participant in the reorganization of the board of trustees and the development of new bylaws for university governance in 1968. In years of financial crisis during the late 1960s and early 1970s, he used his personal influence to obtain support for the institution.
Doctrinal Defender. Although considered by many to be a liberal on civil rights and social issues, Cardinal O'Boyle was perceived as an outspoken and unbending opponent of dissent where the Church's doctrinal or moral teachings were concerned. This was most evident in his staunch support of Pope Paul VI's 1968 encyclical, Humanae vitae, that upheld the Church's teaching against artificial contraception. His support of the encyclical led to a controversy involving 50 priests of the archdiocese and some priest faculty members of The Catholic University of America.
Equally outspoken on other moral issues, he opposed sterilization on grounds that it frustrates a natural right to conceive that neither the state nor an individual can take away; and he criticized government birth control programs as an intrusion into the private rights of citizens. He was critical of the Supreme Court's 1973 decision legalizing abortion; he equated abortion with murder and compared it with Hitler's slaughter of the Jews.
Cardinal O'Boyle submitted his resignation at the mandatory retirement age of 75 in 1971. His resignation was accepted in 1973. He continued to reside in Washington until his death after a short illness. He is interred in St. Matthew's Cathedral crypt. His papers from the Vatican II years are in the archives of the Mullen Library on the campus of The Catholic University of America.
Bibliography: Washington Post (Aug. 12, 1987) A22. v. a. yzermans, American Participation in the Second Vatican Council (New York 1967).
[j. f. donoghue]