The Cardinal’s residence

The Cardinal’s residence

A letter to the editor in the Boston Globe today provides good background on the archbishop’s/cardinal’s residence. the Globe has been making a deal about the “palatial” home and how much it’s worth and how it represents the hierarchy’s distancing itself from the laity. (I wonder how many Globe editors live in Roxbury and Dorchester and South Boston versus Newton and Wellesley. Hmmm.) And they go on about how the “imperious” Cardinal Law supposedly loved the perk, and how Bishop O’Malley may be too humble to live there. Well, this letter writer has the right perspective:

In its discussion of the moves of the archbishop’s residence and office under the leadership of William Henry O’Connell, the article didn’t mention the significant fact that O’Connell had been elevated to the rank of cardinal. This not only underlined the importance of the archdiocese; it introduced a new array of responsibilities and support needs.

In the O’Connell era the Roman Catholic Church was the largest private provider of religious, educational, hospital, and social services in Greater Boston. [N.B.: I think it still is.] Rapid growth in all of these areas drove the eminently sensible decision to settle the cardinal’s residence adjacent to the archdiocesan seminary on a campus that provided both improved transportation access and office expansion possibilities. If being in a ‘‘tony’’ neighborhood such as Brookline’s Fisher Hill had been so important to O’Connell, he had many other options available to him than to choose middle-class Brighton and erect a so-called ‘‘palazzo’’ there across from trolley-car tracks and a cemetery.

The fact is that as much as living near the cathedral might offer good symbolism, the archdiocesan offices are in Brighton and it makes more sense for the archbishop to be near them. As the letter writer says later, maybe they can use part of the residence as a dormitory for seminarians.

  • Living near the Cathedral means living in the REALLY tony South End of Boston. You can’t touch mind houses, unless you’ve got a handy million or so lying around. It’s not Brighton, that’s for sure.

    Which reminds me…directly across the street from the Cathedral is an extremely expensive condominium development. During the really loud protests (which usually started at about 10:00 AM on Sundays) the folks complained to our parish, stating that they certainly didn’t pay a million dollars to be disturbed on their Sunday mornings, etc., etc., and that we should “do something about it.”

    The Cardinal’s response was pretty simple: he invited our neighbors to—as long as they were awake—to come on down and worship with us.

  • I don’t think Boston’s cadre of seminarians is small enough to live on one floor of the Archbishop’s residence as the letter-writer suggests, thanks be to God.