John Francis Whealon

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The Most Reverend

John Francis Whealon
Archbishop of Hartford
See Hartford
Appointed December 28, 1968
Term ended August 2, 1991
Predecessor Henry Joseph O'Brien
Successor Daniel Anthony Cronin
Other posts Auxiliary Bishop of Cleveland (1961-66)
Bishop of Erie (1966-68)
Ordination May 26, 1945
Consecration July 6, 1961
Personal details
Born (1921-01-15)January 15, 1921
Barberton, Ohio
Died August 2, 1991(1991-08-02) (aged 70)
Hartford, Connecticut
Denomination Roman Catholic Church

John Francis Whealon (January 15, 1921 – August 2, 1991) was an American clergyman of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Bishop of Erie (1966–68) and Archbishop of Hartford (1968–91).


John Whealon was born in Barberton, Ohio, to John Joseph and Mary Christina (née Zanders) Whealon.[1] He received his early education at St. Augustine School in his native city from 1927 to 1934, and attended St. Charles College in Catonsville, Maryland, from 1934 to 1940.[1] He then returned to Ohio and made his theological studies at St. Mary's Seminary in Cleveland from 1940 to 1945.[1] He was ordained to the priesthood on May 26, 1945.[2] He briefly served as a curate at St. Peter Church in Akron before entering the University of Ottawa, where he earned a Doctor of Sacred Theology degree.[1]

Upon his return to Ohio, he served as a curate at St. Dominic Church in Shaker Heights and professor of Sacred Scripture at St. Mary's Seminary from 1946 to 1948.[1] He furthered his studies at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome from 1948 to 1950.[1] He returned to Ohio and was named a curate at St. Aloysius Church in Cleveland in 1950.[1] He resumed his post as professor at St. Mary's Seminary in 1952, and became rector of Borromeo Seminary in Wickliffe the following year.[1] He was named a papal chamberlain in 1955, and raised to the rank of domestic prelate in 1959.[1] He contributed to Catholic Biblical Quarterly and was vice president of the Catholic Biblical Association (1959–60).[1]

On June 5, 1961, Whealon was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Cleveland and Titular Bishop of Andrapa by Pope John XXIII.[2] He received his episcopal consecration on the following July 6 from Archbishop Egidio Vagnozzi, with Bishops Paul John Hallinan and Floyd Lawrence Begin serving as co-consecrators.[2] Between 1962 and 1965, he attended all four sessions of the Second Vatican Council.[3] Following the resignation of Archbishop John Mark Gannon, Whealon was named the sixth Bishop of Erie, Pennsylvania, by Pope Paul VI on December 9, 1966.[2]

Two years later, on December 28, 1968, Whealon was appointed Archbishop of Hartford, Connecticut, following the resignation of Archbishop Henry Joseph O'Brien.[2] During his 23-year-long administration, he established a program to train married men to be ordained as deacons, advocated the promotion of women within the structure of the Church, and developed a team ministry in which clerical and lay people administer a parish together.[3] He was active on ecumenical issues, and was chairman of the Committee on Ecumenism of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and head of ChrisConn, the Christian conference of Connecticut.[3]

Whealon left the Democratic Party in 1988 because of his opposition to abortion, declaring in his column in the weekly Catholic Transcript that he was "unable in conscience to remain a registered Democrat" because of the party's support of legal and government-financed abortions.[3] In 1974, he said that Catholic healthcare professionals who participated in abortions faced excommunication.[3] He even resigned from a local television station's program advisory committee because the station did not cancel an episode of Maude that dealt with abortion.[3] He also described a state-sponsored advertising campaign that encouraged sexually active adults to use condoms to prevents AIDS as "a commendable effort but a serious mistake to present condoms as the answer to the threat."[3] He supported the Vietnam War and defended the maintenance of nuclear weapons.[3]

The Archbishop died unexpectedly during a routine surgical procedure at St. Francis Hospital in Hartford.

The Archdiocese's annual fundraising golf tournament is named in his honor. Additionally, the Waterbury council of the Knights of Columbus bears his name - the Archbishop John F. Whealon Council 10865.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Curtis, Georgina Pell (1961). The American Catholic Who's Who. XIV. Grosse Pointe, Michigan: Walter Romig. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Archbishop John Francis Whealon". [self-published source]
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Fraser, C. Gerald (1991-08-03). "John Francis Whealon Dies at 70; Archbishop of Hartford 22 Years". The New York Times. 

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Title last held by
Angelo Cesare Vigiani
Bishop of Andrapa
Preceded by
John Mark Gannon
Bishop of Erie
Succeeded by
Alfred Michael Watson
Preceded by
Henry Joseph O'Brien
Archbishop of Hartford
Succeeded by
Daniel Anthony Cronin