Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington

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Archdiocese of Washington

Archidioecesis Vashingtonensis
2013 Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle.JPG
Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle
Coat of arms of the Archdiocese of Washington
Coat of arms
Country United States
Territory District of Columbia plus counties of Montgomery, Prince George's, St. Mary's, Calvert, and Charles in Maryland[1]
Ecclesiastical province Washington
Area 2,104 sq mi (5,450 km2)
- Total
- Catholics
(as of 2016)
646,892[2] (21.9%)
Parishes 139
Denomination Roman Catholic
Rite Roman Rite
Established November 15, 1947[3] (72 years ago)
Cathedral Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle
Patron saint St. Matthew
Current leadership
Pope Francis
Metropolitan Archbishop Wilton Daniel Gregory (Archbishop)
Auxiliary Bishops Mario E. Dorsonville
Roy Edward Campbell
Michael William Fisher
Bishops emeritus Donald Wuerl
Francisco González Valer

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington (or the Archdiocese of Washington) is a particular church of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States. It comprises the District of Columbia and Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George's and Saint Mary's counties in the state of Maryland. It was originally part of the Archdiocese of Baltimore

The Archdiocese of Washington is home to The Catholic University of America, the only national university operated by the bishops conference of the United States[4] and Georgetown University, the oldest Catholic and Jesuit institution of higher education in the country.

In addition, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, a minor basilica dedicated to the nation's patroness, the Immaculate Conception, is located within and administered by it, and, although it is not the Archdiocesan cathedral (nor even a parish of the Archdiocese), it is the site of its Easter and Christmas Masses. The cathedral of the archdiocese is the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in downtown Washington.


The Pastoral Center in Hyattsville, Maryland

The ordinary of the Archdiocese of Washington is an archbishop whose cathedra is the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in the City of Washington and who is metropolitan of the Ecclesiastical Province of Washington. Its sole suffragan see is the Diocese of Saint Thomas in the United States Virgin Islands.

The first Archbishop of Washington was Michael Joseph Curley in 1939. Eight years later, on November 15, 1947, the archdiocese received its first residential archbishop, with the appointment of Patrick Aloysius O'Boyle. Donald William Cardinal Wuerl served as the most recent ordinary of the Archdiocese. Wuerl resigned as Archbishop of Washington on October 12, 2018 in the wake of revelations about his poor handling of incidents of sex abuse when he served as Bishop of Pittsburgh.[5] However, Wuerl still led the Archdiocese as apostolic administrator until a successor was installed.[6][7]

On March 28, 2019, rumors were reported that Wilton Daniel Gregory of Atlanta had been offered the position of Archbishop of Washington.[8][9] On April 4, 2019, his appointment by Pope Francis was confirmed by the Vatican.[10][11] The same day, the Archdiocese of Washington announced that Archbishop Gregory would indeed be installed as the seventh Archbishop of Washington.[12] Gregory, who was originally scheduled to be installed on May 17, 2019,[12] was installed on May 21, 2019, becoming the first African American to lead the Archdiocese of Washington.[13]


On March 25, 1634, the first Catholic Mass in the English-speaking colonies was celebrated by Fr. Andrew White, S.J., on St. Clement's Island, Maryland, in what is now part of the Archdiocese of Washington.[14] The Catholic founders of the Maryland settlement then established the colony as a place of religious freedom. During the colonial era, however, when others took power, Catholics would become a persecuted people suffering the wrath of oppression allowed by local penal laws.[14]

Upon the founding of the United States, a Jesuit priest, Father John Carroll, was elected head of the missionary territory (later Prefecture Apostolic) of the United States. In 1789 the Diocese of Baltimore (later the Archdiocese of Baltimore) was established with Carroll as its first bishop, and given ecclesiastical jurisdiction over the entire nation.[15]

On July 22, 1939, Pope Pius XII separated the cities of Washington and Baltimore, creating two archdioceses (Baltimore and Washington), under the oversight of one archbishop in persona episcopi.[3][14] This process of separation was officially concluded on November 15, 1947, with the appointment of Washington's first residential archbishop.[3][14] The Archdiocese of Washington became a metropolitan see on October 12, 1965, when the Diocese of Saint Thomas became its first (and, so far, only) suffragan see.

Sex Abuse Scandal

On September 26, 2018, it was announced that the Archdiocese of Washington was now one of four American Catholic Dioceses under investigation by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops for reports of sex abuse.[16] Accused former Cardinal and Washington Archbishop Theodore McCarrick had served in each Diocese.[16] On October 15, 2018, the Archdiocese of Washington released the names of 31 clergy who served in the Archdiocese and were credibly accused of sexually abusing minors since 1948.[17][18][19] On August 15, 2019, Archdiocese priest Urbano Vazquez was convicted of 4 counts of sexual abuse involving two girls.[20]

In October 2019, the Washington Post reported that police were investigating an allegation that former Bishop of Wheeling-Charleston Michael Joseph Bransfield molested a 9-year-old girl during a September 2012 pilgrimage to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., while on a trip led by Bransfield.[21] Prior to being appointed Bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston in 2004, Bransfield long served at the Basilica, being named assistant director and director of liturgy (1980), director of finance (1982), and director (1986) at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.[22][23] The Archdiocese of Washington was subpoenaed for documents in connection with the investigation.[21] Bransfield denied the allegation.[21] In December 2019, the Washington Post revealed that Bransfield had paid $350,000 to Vatican and church officials during a sex abuse probe against him.[24][25] The "hush money" payments involved acts of sex abuse he reportedly committed when he was at the Washington Basilica in the 1980s[24][25] The same report also revealed that during his time as Archbishop of Washington, McCarrick used his "Archbishop's Special Fund" to make similar hush money payments in order to cover acts of sex abuse he committed in other Catholic dioceses.[24][25][26]


The list of bishops and their terms of service:

Archbishops of Washington

Cathedra in St. Matthew's Cathedral, with Michael Joseph Curley‘s coat of arms permanently affixed.
  1. Michael Joseph Curley (1939–1947), concurrently the Archbishop of Baltimore
  2. Cardinal Patrick Aloysius O'Boyle (1947–1973)
  3. Cardinal William Wakefield Baum (1973–1980), appointed Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education and later Major Penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary
  4. Cardinal James Aloysius Hickey (1980–2000)
  5. Theodore Edgar McCarrick (2001–2006)[27]
  6. Cardinal Donald William Wuerl (2006–2018)
  7. Wilton Daniel Gregory (2019–present)

Auxiliary Bishops

Other priests of this diocese who became Bishops


High schools


Colleges and universities


Archdiocesan cemeteries

In addition to the nearly four dozen of its parishes which have their own cemeteries,[28] the archdiocese owns and operates five major cemeteries:[29]

Two former parish cemeteries are also operated by the archdiocese:

Province of Washington, D.C.

Ecclesiastical Province of Washington map

See also


  1. ^ Archdiocese of Washington
  2. ^ "Statistics". Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington. December 6, 2016. Retrieved December 18, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c Although the archdiocese was created on July 29, 1939, it shared its first archbishop with the Archdiocese of Baltimore — Archbishop Curley — who continued to administer the two archdioceses as a single unit, until Washington's first residential archbishop was appointed on November 15, 1947. Most Rev. Michael J. Curley Archived February 21, 2015, at the Wayback Machine. Archdiocese of Baltimore. Retrieved on November 19, 2016. Archbishops of the Modern Era Archived November 20, 2016, at the Wayback Machine. Archdiocese of Baltimore. Retrieved on 2016-11-19.
  4. ^ "About Us". The Catholic University of America. Retrieved February 1, 2017.
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ White, Christopher (October 12, 2018). "Wuerl resigns amid papal praise, will stay as interim administrator". Crux. Retrieved December 19, 2018.
  8. ^ "Wilton Gregory likely new DC archbishop; would be 1st African-American to lead DC church: report". FOX News WTTG.
  9. ^ Condon, Ed; Flynn, J. D. (March 28, 2019). "Archbishop Wilton Gregory asked to lead Washington archdiocese". Catholic News Agency.
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ a b "Pope Francis Names Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory as New Archbishop of Washington". Archdiocese of Washington.
  13. ^
  14. ^ a b c d About Us. Archdiocese of Washington. Retrieved November 19, 2016.
  15. ^ "Prefect Apostolic". The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 12. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. Retrieved August 6, 2012.
  16. ^ a b
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ a b c Shawn Boburg & Robert O'Harrow Jr., Former W.Va. bishop Michael Bransfield is under police investigation for alleged abuse of 9-year-old girl on church trip, Washington Post (October 3, 2019).
  22. ^ Rutkowski, Ryan (2010). Catholic West Virginia. Arcadia Publishing. p. 20. Retrieved December 28, 2019.
  23. ^ "Bishop Michael J. Bransfield". Bishop Accountability. Retrieved December 28, 2019.
  24. ^ a b c
  25. ^ a b c
  26. ^
  27. ^ [1]
  28. ^ Parish Cemeteries from the official website of the Catholic Cemeteries of the Archdiocese of Washington
  29. ^ History from the official website of the Catholic Cemeteries of the Archdiocese of Washington

External links

  • Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington Official Site
  • Cathedral of Saint Matthew the Apostle
  • Alphabetical Listing of Parishes

Coordinates: 38°57′11″N 76°59′7.4″W / 38.95306°N 76.985389°W / 38.95306; -76.985389

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