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Efforts to relocate the body of Cardinal William O’Connell in Boston are causing a huge uproar among his surviving family members.
O’Connell served as Archbishop of Boston from 1907 to 1944 and was one of the most powerful figures in the clergy in America in his time.
When he died he was buried in an extravagant mausoleum in Brighton cemetery. In 1928, O’Connell said “in that crypt is the place my body after death shall repose until the Judgment Day.’’
However, all these years later, the Boston archdiocese has decided to sell the holy ground to Boston College, and the Cardinal’s remains will have to come up if they do so.
The archdiocese is taking the step because they need the money to settle lawsuits involving child sex abuse by their priests.
The Boston Globe reports that the Archdiocese of Boston will lose $2 million to Boston College if it fails to remove the cardinal and the mausoleum in which he was entombed. Both institutions are suing to move the body so Boston College can get the land.
Boston College spokesman Jack Dunn has defended the attempt to move the body.
“The Archdiocese of Boston and Boston College have filed a joint petition with the probate court that we feel provides a fitting, permanent resting place for the late cardinal’s remains,’’ Dunn told the Boston Globe
However, family members of the O’Connell clan are bitterly opposed. They include Paul Kirk, O’Connell’s grandnephew, who is now serving as a U.S. senator after the death of Senator Edward Kennedy.
His brother Edward is leading the effort to preserve O’Connell’s remains where they are.
“Here you have a man whose connection to both of those institutions is intimate and intricate, and yet here those two parties are suing his family for his removal,’’ Edward Kirk said.
“It is very strange and it’s most unfortunate that it had to come to this.”
However, Dunn form Boston College thinks Kirk has no case. “We anticipate that Edward Kirk’s claims will be dismissed and that our petition will be approved by the court.’’