Albert Lewis Fletcher
|Reference style||The Most Reverend|
|Spoken style||Your Excellency|
Albert Fletcher was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, to Thomas and Helen (née Wehr) Fletcher. His parents were both converts to Catholicism; his father was originally an Episcopalian and his mother a Lutheran. He and his family moved to Paris, Logan County a few months after his birth, and later to Tontitown and then Mena. In 1912 he entered Little Rock College, from where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in chemistry in 1916. After completing his theological studies at St. John Home Missions Seminary, he was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop John Baptist Morris on June 4, 1920. He then served as an assistant professor of chemistry and biology at Little Rock College, where he became president in 1923. In 1922 he earned a Master of Science degree from the University of Chicago. He was professor of dogmatic theology and canon law at St. John Seminary (1925–1929), and chancellor (1926–1933) and vicar general (1933–1946) of the Diocese of Little Rock. He was named a Papal Chamberlain in 1929 and a Domestic Prelate in 1934.
On December 11, 1939, Fletcher was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Little Rock and Titular Bishop of Samos by Pope Pius XII. He received his episcopal consecration on April 25, 1940 from Archbishop Amleto Cicognani, with Bishops Jules Jeanmard and William O'Brien serving as co-consecrators. He was the first native Arkansan to become a Catholic bishop, and his was the first consecration to be held in that state.
Fletcher was later named Bishop of Little Rock on December 7, 1946. He was a staunch advocate of desegregation, supporting the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, and reprimanding Governor Orval Faubus for attempting to prevent desegregation at Little Rock Central High School in 1957. In a 1960 publication entitled "An Elementary Catholic Catechism on the Morality of Segregation and Racial Discrimination," he described segregation as "immoral...unjust and uncharitable," and stated that it could even constitute mortal sin "when the act of racial prejudice committed is a serious infraction of the law of justice or charity".
From 1962 to 1965, Fletcher attended the Second Vatican Council in Rome. Although he inaugurated the liturgical use of the vernacular in his diocese as early as 1964, he did not follow the Council’s advice on creating permanent deacons, and closed St. John Seminary after some of its faculty publicly questioned the Church’s stance on birth control and papal infallibility. The anti-Communist Fletcher was also opposed to calling for an end to the Vietnam War and to giving amnesty for those who resisted the war and avoided the draft. After twenty-five years of service, he retired as Little Rock’s ordinary on July 4, 1972.
Bishop Fletcher died in Little Rock, at the age of 83. He is buried in the crypt of St. Andrew's Cathedral.
- TIME Magazine. "Segregation Is Immoral" April 25, 1960
- Roman Catholic Diocese of Little Rock Fighting Segregation With Cathechism  The Tuscaloosa News - Aug 4, 1960
- Diocese of Little Rock
- Fletcher in the "The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture"
John Baptist Morris
|Bishop of Little Rock
Andrew Joseph McDonald