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Statement on the Death of Patrick Cardinal O'Boyle

August 11, 1987

Nancy and I were deeply saddened to learn of the death of Patrick Cardinal O'Boyle. We send our heartfelt sympathy to his family and to all the people of the Washington Archdiocese, where he served so faithfully and so well for more than a quarter century. Like the great Irish saint for whom he was named, the patron of the New York Cathedral where he was ordained a priest of God in 1921, Patrick Aloysius O'Boyle perceived for himself a clear mission in life—to do God's will, because "Nothing is impossible to God."

As the first Roman Catholic Archbishop of the Washington Archdiocese, Cardinal O'Boyle took the motto, "Remain firm in the faith." He remained true to that motto throughout his long life of service, and with all of his wit, gentility, and wisdom, it is perhaps for the firmness of his moral leadership that he will best be remembered. Cardinal O'Boyle never ceased to champion the rights and the dignity of all human life, and he never hesitated to take action in its defense. A staunch opponent of racism, he led the way to desegregation of our nation's schools by integrating the Catholic schools of Washington half a decade before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled segregation unconstitutional. In an early pastoral letter, he wrote: "Those who deny a neighbor, solely on the basis of race, the opportunity to buy a house, or to enjoy equal educational and job opportunities, are in effect denying those rights to Christ Himself."

The life of Patrick Cardinal O'Boyle paralleled the course of this century and epitomized the finest qualities of a turbulent era in the life of America and of the world. A son of immigrants, he became a true father, teacher, and exemplar to his flock and to generations of American Catholics. All Americans rejoice in his contributions, and we will forever honor this great man who served his God and his country with a profound and abiding love.

Ronald Reagan, Statement on the Death of Patrick Cardinal O'Boyle Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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