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Francis Joseph Spellman (May 4, 1889 – December 2, 1967) was an American bishop and cardinal of the Catholic Church. From 1939 until his death in 1967, he served as the sixth Archbishop of New York; he had previously served as an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Boston from 1932 through 1939. He was named a cardinal in 1946.
John Cooney published a 1984 biography of Spellman entitled The American Pope. Before publication, he circulated galley proofs of the book, which included several pages arguing that Spellman had been a homosexual, based on multiple anonymous sources. This draft of the book was covered in the press. However, the final published version removed this material, replacing it with two sentences: "For years rumors abounded about Cardinal Spellman being a homosexual. As a result many felt – and continue to feel – that Spellman the public moralist may well have been a contradiction of the man of the flesh."
Journalist Michelangelo Signorile describes Spellman as "one of the most notorious, powerful and sexually voracious homosexuals in the American Catholic Church's history." Signorile reported that Cooney's manuscript initially contained interviews with several people with personal knowledge of Spellman's homosexuality, including researcher and historian C. A. Tripp. According to Signorile, the Catholic Church pressured Cooney's publisher, Times Books, to reduce the four pages discussing Spellman's sexuality to a single paragraph. Both Signorile and John Loughery cite a story suggesting that Spellman was sexually active and carrying on a relationship with a male member of the chorus in the Broadway revue One Touch of Venus.
Additionally, Curt Gentry, biographer of J. Edgar Hoover, says that Hoover's files also had "numerous allegations that Spellman was a very active homosexual."
In 1966, Spellman offered his resignation to Pope Paul VI after the latter instituted a policy whereby bishops retire at age 75, but Paul VI asked him to remain in his post. He led his archdiocese through an extensive period of building the Catholic infrastructure, particularly the construction of numerous churches, schools, and hospitals. He consolidated all parish building programs into his own hands, thereby getting better interest rates from bankers, and convinced Pius XII of the need to internationalize the Vatican's Italy-centered investments after World War II; for his financial skill, he was sometimes called "Cardinal Moneybags".
Spellman died in New York City on December 2, 1967, at age 78, and was interred in the crypt under the main altar at St. Patrick's Cathedral. His funeral Mass was attended by President Johnson, Vice President Hubert Humphrey, Robert Kennedy, Jacob Javits, Nelson Rockefeller, John Lindsay, Arthur Goldberg, and Greek Orthodox Archbishop Iakovos. To date, Spellman's twenty-eight year tenure as archbishop is the longest in the history of the Archdiocese of New York.
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