Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Statement by the President on the Death of Francis Cardinal Spellman, Archbishop of New York.

December 02, 1967

THE LORD has called home a man who served Him and all His children well.

Cardinal Spellman gave his life to God. For half a century, his faith and works were testament to God's enduring and universal love of men.

The race of man mourns him now, for mankind was his ministry. The grace of his goodness touched all manner of men and nations. He brought to all who opened their hearts to his spirit the miracles on which men must build their earthly hopes--truth and charity, mercy and compassion, trust in God and in the destiny of God's human family.

Cardinal Spellman was a Catholic. His lifetime was devoted to uniquely catholic purpose. His voice was heard on the smallest parish street and in the highest councils of his Church. He was both pastor and statesman, an apostle of progress whose influence was felt wherever problem or promise touched his pulpit or his world.

Americans will never forget that he was the Vicar of our Armed Forces. This will be the first Christmas for many years when thousands of our sons will not know the comfort of his presence. But this Christmas in Vietnam, men will recall the courage of his faith that peace on earth will come to men of good will.

For all the extraordinary fullness and diversity of his life, this Prince of the Church lived and died a humble priest.

That is all he wished. That is how he would wish us to remember him. "Those ministers," he once said, "who are endowed with sacred power are servants of their brethren. The higher one rises in the Church, the lower, in a sense, does he become."

This good and gallant servant of our world is gone. But the good that he has done remains to enrich and enlighten us all. In my own grief, I find comfort in that thought. Cardinal Spellman was my close and cherished friend of many years. I pray that the American family, as my own, will be consoled by this truth: As God has taken away this day, He has given us the blessings of His disciple's works for all our days.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Statement by the President on the Death of Francis Cardinal Spellman, Archbishop of New York. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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