James Aloysius Griffin

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James Aloysius Griffin (February 27, 1883 – August 5, 1948) was an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Bishop of Springfield in Illinois from 1924 until his death in 1948.


James Griffin was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Thomas and Catherine (née Woulfe) Griffin.[1] He attended St. Gabriel High School and St. Ignatius College in Chicago before furthering his studies in Rome at Propaganda College, from where he obtained a Ph.D. (1906) and a Doctor of Divinity (1910).[1] While in Rome, he served as secretary to Cardinal Rafael Merry del Val.[2] Griffin was ordained to the priesthood on July 4, 1909.[3] Upon his return to the United States in 1910, he served as a curate at St. James Church in Chicago until 1915, when he was transferred to St. Brendan Church.[1] He served as pastor of Assumption Church in Coal City (1917–1921) and of St. Mary Church in Joliet (1921–1924).[1]

On November 10, 1923, Griffin was appointed the fourth Bishop of Springfield by Pope Pius XI.[3] He received his episcopal consecration on February 25, 1924 from Archbishop George Mundelein, with Bishops Samuel Stritch and Edward Francis Hoban serving as co-consecrators.[3] He dedicated the new Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in 1928.[4] Griffin erected 51 new churches, schools, convents and charitable institutions; the total cost spent in his first ten years was close to $6.5 million.[5] He established Marquette Catholic High School in Alton, and Springfield College.

In 1939 he joined Bishop John Mark Gannon and Monsignor Michael Joseph Ready in a visit to Mexico to confer with Archbishop Luis Martínez on a seminary founded in Las Vegas, New Mexico, to supply priests for the Mexican Church, since seminaries were at that time illegal in that country.[6] Following the election of George D. Stoddard as president of the University of Illinois in 1945, Griffin condemned Stoddard's assertion in his book The Meaning of Intelligence that, "Man-made concepts, such as devils, witches, taboos, hellfire, original sin...and divine revelation...have distorted the intellectual processes of millions of persons."[7] Griffin said, "We want to know what we're paying for...Thousands of [Dr. Stoddard's] future students believe in the objective validity of [original sin and hell]...He will evidently try to dispossess his charges of their feeble-mindedness."[7] In response, Stoddard said he "should be much happier if the Bishop and his group read the whole book" and that, taken as a whole, it actually urged a "return to religion."[7][8]

Griffin died, aged 65. He is buried in one of five crypts of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d Curtis, Georgina Pell (1947). The American Catholic Who's Who. VII. Grosse Pointe, Michigan: Walter Romig.
  2. ^ "THE MOST REVEREND JAMES A. GRIFFIN, D.D." (PDF). Dedication of Saint Gabriel Parish Hall of Fame. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-03-26. Retrieved 2009-09-05.
  3. ^ a b c "Bishop James Aloysius Griffin". Catholic-Hierarchy.org.
  4. ^ "History of The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception". Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Archived from the original on 2012-02-26. Retrieved 2009-09-05.
  5. ^ a b Saal, Rich. "Bishop James A. Griffin is laid to rest". Behind the Curtain. Archived from the original on 2012-04-22. Retrieved 2009-09-05.
  6. ^ "Prelates in Mufti". TIME Magazine. 1939-08-14.
  7. ^ a b c "Heresy". TIME Magazine. 1945-10-22.
  8. ^ "The Final Arrow". TIME Magazine. 1953-08-03.
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
James Ryan
Bishop of Springfield in Illinois
Succeeded by
William Aloysius O'Connor