George L. Leech

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Styles of
George Leech
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Reference styleThe Right Reverend
Spoken styleYour Excellency
Religious styleBishop
Posthumous stylenone

George Leo Leech (May 21, 1890 – March 12, 1985) was an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Bishop of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania from 1935 to 1971.

Life and career[edit]

George Leech was born in Ashley, Pennsylvania, to William Dillon and Helen Mary (née Fitzimons) Leech. After attending Hanover Township High School and St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, he was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Denis Dougherty on May 29, 1920. He then furthered his studies at the Catholic University of America, from where he obtained his doctorate in canon law.

Leech served as secretary of the Apostolic Delegation to the United States, and then as pastor of St. Patrick's Parish in Pottsville. He was raised to the rank of a Privy Chamberlain of His Holiness in 1925, and a Domestic Prelate of His Holiness in 1934, as well as serving as spiritual director of the Regional Holy Name Union and moderator of Ecclesiastical Conferences.

On July 6, 1935, Leech was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Harrisburg and Titular Bishop of Mela by Pope Pius XI. He received his episcopal consecration on the following October 17 from Cardinal Dougherty, with Bishops Thomas O’Reilly and James Ryan serving as co-consecrators.

Leech was later named the fifth Bishop of Harrisburg on December 19 of that same year. After a month as Harrisburg’s ordinary, he was able to recall the forenames of all the clergy of his diocese.[1] In 1946, he described Howard Hughes’s film The Outlaw as "a destructive and corrupting picture which glamorizes crime and immorality".[2]

The Bishop attended the Second Vatican Council from 1962 to 1965; Fr. William Keeler served as his peritus, or expert, at the Council. Leech retired from his post on October 29, 1971, following thirty-five years of service. On that same date, he was made Titular Bishop of Allegheny.

Leech continued to reside at the episcopal residence, and later died at Holy Spirit Hospital,[3] at the age of 94. He is buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Harrisburg.

Removal of name in Diocese of Harrisburg[edit]

On August 1, 2018, Bishop Ronald Gainer, Leech's successor as bishop of Harrisburg, announced that the names of every bishop of Harrisburg from 1947 onward -- including Leech's -- will be removed removed from any building or room in the diocese named in their honor, due to their failure to protect victims from abuse.[4]


  1. ^ TIME Magazine. More Bishops May 4, 1936
  2. ^ TIME Magazine. That Outlaw June 10, 1946
  3. ^ New York Times. Bishop George Leech Dies March 14, 1985
  4. ^ Zauzmer, Julie (August 1, 2018). "Pennsylvania diocese will remove every bishop's name since 1947 from buildings because they failed to root out child sexual abuse". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 1, 2018.

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Philip R. McDevitt
Bishop of Harrisburg
Succeeded by
Joseph Thomas Daley