Elden Francis Curtiss
|The Most Reverend
|Archbishop Emeritus of Omaha|
Curtiss in 2013
|Appointed||May 4, 1993|
|Installed||June 25, 1993|
|Term ended||June 3, 2009|
|Predecessor||Daniel E. Sheehan|
|Ordination||May 24, 1958|
|Consecration||April 28, 1977|
June 16, 1932 |
Baker City, Oregon
|Motto||That We May All Be One|
Elden Francis Curtiss
|Reference style||The Most Reverend|
|Spoken style||Your Excellency|
|Posthumous style||not applicable|
Early life and ministry
Elden Curtiss was born in Baker City, Oregon, to Elden and Mary (née Neiger) Curtiss; his father was of Irish descent and his mother Slovenian. The eldest of four children, he has three brothers. Curtiss studied at St. Edward Seminary in Kenmore, Washington, and was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Francis Leipzig on May 24, 1958. He then did pastoral work in Lakeview, La Grande, and Jordan Valley, as well as serving as a hospital chaplain.
Curtiss furthered his studies at Fordham University, University of Portland, and University of Notre Dame; he holds a Master of Divinity degree and a Master's degree in education administration. After serving as director of information and superintendent of schools in the Diocese of Baker, he became a professor and president-rector of Mount Angel Seminary.
Bishop of Helena
On March 4, 1976, Curtiss was appointed the seventh Bishop of Helena, Montana, by Pope Paul VI. He received his episcopal consecration on the following April 28 from Archbishop Cornelius Power, with Bishops Thomas Connolly and Francis Leipzig serving as co-consecrators. He selected as his episcopal motto: "That We May All Be One" (John 17:21).
During his 17-year-long tenure, Curtiss encouraged the greater participation of the laity, establishing the Program of Formation of Lay Ministry in 1982. He also led the diocese in celebration of its 100th anniversary.
Archbishop of Omaha
Curtiss began monitoring the orthodoxy of the teachings at Creighton University and other Catholic institutions in 1993. In 2007, the director of the Creighton Center for Marriage and Family co-authored an essay in U.S. Catholic magazine that said unmarried couples should be allowed to live together if they planned to get married. Curtiss later denounced the article and severed the archdiocese's ties with the center, saying, "If what [teachers are] teaching is not consistent with the teaching of the Church, somebody has to point that out. And it needs to be the archbishop, the head of the diocese."
In 1996, he declared that Catholics in the archdiocese could not teach, administer Communion, or serve on parish councils if they publicly differed with the Church's teachings on abortion, euthanasia, or the ordination of women. During the 2008 presidential election, Curtiss implied that Catholics should not vote for Democratic nominee Barack Obama because of the latter's position on abortion. While acknowledging that a Catholic may vote for a pro-choice candidate "in the presence of proportionate reasons," he added, "I cannot conceive of a proportionate reason that could outweigh the deaths of nearly 50 million children killed by abortion."
During his tenure, Curtiss established three parishes, five churches, and six schools; a Review Board for handling sexual abuse cases; ministries for Hispanic, Sudanese, Korean, Native American, and African American communities; the Annual Appeal; St. Cecilia Institute for Laity Formation; and Institute for Priestly Formation. He also ordained 63 priests during his tenure.
Upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 75, Curtiss submitted his letter of resignation pro forma to Pope Benedict XVI in June 2007, but was allowed to continue his ministry. His resignation was later accepted on June 3, 2009, and his successor, Bishop George Lucas took office on July 22, 2009.
Response to sexual abuse claims
During his tenure as the Bishop of Helena, Curtiss chose to reassign a priest who had been accused of pedophilia in 1959, later admitting that he had not properly examined the church's personnel file on the individual concerned. Curtis faced similar criticism in 2001 in regard to a priest accused of accessing child pornography. Curtis, it was alleged, had failed to bring the case to the attention of the authorities, and had chosen to send the priest for counseling and to reassign the priest, removing him from his high-school teaching position but reassigning him to a middle-school.
In 2009, Curtiss stated that the bishops had "learned the hard way", but that the church was better now that it had gone through the process of responding to the sexual abuse issues.
- "Archbishop Elden Francis Curtiss". Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Omaha.
- "Archbishop Elden Francis Curtiss". Catholic-Hierarchy.org.
- Egerton, Brooks; Dunklin, Reese (June 12, 2002). "Bishops' record in cases of accused priests". Dallas Morning News.
- Burbach, Christopher. "Archbishop talks frankly about pain and joy of his 16-year tenure". Omaha World-Herald.
|Catholic Church titles|
Raymond Gerhardt Hunthausen
|Bishop of Helena
1976 – 1993
Alexander Joseph Brunett
Daniel Eugene Sheehan
|Archbishop of Omaha
George Joseph Lucas