John R. Quinn

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His Excellency
John R. Quinn
Archbishop Emeritus of San Francisco
Church Roman Catholic Church
See San Francisco
Appointed February 16, 1977
Installed April 26, 1977
Term ended December 27, 1995
Predecessor Joseph T. McGucken
Successor William Levada
Ordination December 23, 1953
Consecration October 21, 1967
Personal details
Born (1929-03-28) March 28, 1929 (age 86)
Riverside, California
Previous post
Styles of
John Raphael Quinn
Mitre (plain).svg
Reference style The Most Reverend
Spoken style Your Excellency
Religious style Monsignor
Posthumous style not applicable

John Raphael Quinn (born March 28, 1929) is a Roman Catholic bishop, who is the Archbishop Emeritus of the Archdiocese of San Francisco; he served as the archdiocese's sixth archbishop from 1977 to 1995. Archbishop Quinn also served as Archbishop of Oklahoma City from 1971 to 1977 and the president of the United States Catholic Conference and National Conference of Catholic Bishops from 1977 to 1980.

Early life and ordination[edit]

Quinn was born in Riverside, California, and was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of San Diego on July 19, 1953. He was named by Pope Paul VI, auxiliary bishop for San Diego and titular bishop of Thisiduo on October 21, 1967, and consecrated December 12.


On November 17, 1971, he was appointed Bishop of Oklahoma City-Tulsa. When the diocese was split to form the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City and the Diocese of Tulsa on December 13, 1972, Quinn became the first Archbishop of Oklahoma City. In 1977, Quinn was reassigned to become the Archbishop of San Francisco.

Archbishop of San Francisco[edit]

Quinn's was a popular appointment by Pope Paul VI in 1977 and for almost his entire episcopate in San Francisco he enjoyed the support of priests and laymen. In the early years of his time as Archbishop he was simultaneously president of the USCC/NCCB, which often kept him away from the archdiocese.

Early in his career in San Francisco, Quinn recognized that the Archdiocese was too large and he was instrumental in devising plans for the creation of the Diocese of San Jose which was erected by Pope John Paul II on January 27, 1981.

The first bishop of the new diocese was Bishop Pierre DuMaine who had until then been an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of San Francisco. Links between the two adjacent dioceses remain strong, as the second (and current) Bishop of San Jose is the former San Francisco auxiliary Bishop Patrick Joseph McGrath.


Irenicism and liberalism[edit]

Quinn was an irenic and liberal presence in San Francisco who, in the 1970s and 1980s, offered national leadership to Catholics in the United States on issues as diverse as U.S. women religious, the moral permissibility of nuclear weapons, sanctuary for Central American refugees, and working to overturn Roe vs Wade and restore legal protection to unborn children.

Oscar Romero[edit]

After the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero in March, 1980, Quinn issued a statement lauding the murdered prelate as "a voice for the poor and the oppressed." Quinn later attended Archbishop Romero's funeral in San Salvador.

AIDS/ARC epidemic[edit]

In 1985, Archbishop Quinn initiated the Catholic Church's first institutional response to the AIDS/ARC epidemic. Catholic Charities San Francisco is currently the largest provider of housing to people with AIDS on the West Coast.

Loma Prieta earthquake[edit]

In the 1990s, Quinn turned his attention to the needs of the archdiocese after the Loma Prieta earthquake, which damaged many churches. The Archdiocese of San Francisco drew up a plan which would see the closure of a dozen parishes whose churches had been damaged in the earthquake. This plan drew the wrath of many priests, 41 of whom signed a petition to Quinn dissenting from his plan

Catholic Church in England[edit]

Throughout his episcopate he maintained strong links with the Catholic Church in England visiting it regularly and maintaining strong personal links with the country. After his retirement from the full-time ministry he spent time at Campion Hall, Oxford where in 1996 he gave a celebrated paper on "the claims of the primacy and the costly call to unity," a paper which was a first draft of his 1999 book The Reform of the Papacy.

Published works[edit]

  • John R. Quinn, The Reform of the Papacy (New York: Crossroad Publishing, 1999). A thoughtful response to Pope John Paul II's request for suggestions on how to reform the papacy in his papal letter Ut Unum Sint.


Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Victor Joseph Reed
Bishop of Oklahoma City-Tulsa
Succeeded by
None (diocese split)
Preceded by
None (erected)
Archbishop of Oklahoma City
Succeeded by
Charles Salatka
Preceded by
Joseph Thomas McGucken
Archbishop of San Francisco
Succeeded by
William Levada
Preceded by
Joseph Bernardin
President of the United States Catholic Conference and National Conference of Catholic Bishops
Succeeded by
John Roach