Raymond Hunthausen

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His Excellency, The Most Reverend
Raymond Gerhardt Hunthausen
Archbishop Emeritus of Seattle
Archdiocese Seattle
Appointed February 25, 1975
Installed May ??, 1975
Term ended August 21, 1991
Predecessor Thomas Arthur Connolly
Successor Thomas Joseph Murphy
Ordination June 1, 1946
Consecration August 30, 1962
by Egidio Vagnozzi, Bernard Joseph Topel, and William Joseph Condon
Personal details
Born (1921-08-21) August 21, 1921 (age 96)
Anaconda, Montana
Previous post Bishop of Helena (1962–1975)
Motto Thy will be done
Styles of
Raymond Gerhardt Hunthausen
Mitre (plain).svg
Reference style
Spoken style Your Excellency
Religious style Archbishop
Ordination history of
Raymond Hunthausen
Episcopal consecration
Consecrated by Egidio Vagnozzi
Date of consecration August 30, 1962
Episcopal succession
Bishops consecrated by Raymond Hunthausen as principal consecrator
William S. Skylstad May 12, 1977
Lawrence Harold Welsh December 14, 1978

Raymond Gerhardt Hunthausen (born August 21, 1921) is a retired American prelate of the Catholic Church. He served as Bishop of Helena from 1962 to 1975 and as Archbishop of Seattle from 1975 to 1991. He is the last surviving American bishop-participant of the Second Vatican Council.

Early life and education[edit]

The oldest of seven children, Raymond Hunthausen was born in Anaconda, Montana, to Anthony Gerhardt and Edna Marie (née Tuchscherer) Hunthausen.[1] His parents owned and operated a local grocery store.[2] He received his early education from the Ursuline nuns at the parochial school of St. Paul Church, and excelled academically and athletically during high school.[2]

He attended Carroll College in Helena, majoring in chemistry and graduating cum laude in 1943.[1] He considered pursuing a career as a chemical engineer or as a fighter pilot for the United States Air Force.[3] However, he was persuaded by Father Bernard Topel, his spiritual director and mathematics professor at Carroll who later became Bishop of Spokane, to enter the priesthood.[2][3] He began his studies at St. Edward Seminary in Kenmore, Washington, in the fall of 1943.[4]


Hunthausen was ordained a priest by Bishop Joseph Gilmore on June 1, 1946.[5] He returned to Carroll College, where he served as a professor of chemistry (1946–57) and a football and basketball coach (1953–57).[1] In 1953 he earned a Master's degree in science from the University of Notre Dame.[2] He served as president of Carroll College from 1957 to 1962. He was named a domestic prelate in 1958.[1]

Episcopal career[edit]

On July 8, 1962, Hunthausen was appointed the sixth Bishop of Helena by Pope John XXIII.[5] He received his episcopal consecration on the following August 30 from Archbishop Egidio Vagnozzi, with Bishops Bernard Topel and William Condon serving as co-consecrators.[5] As bishop of Helena, he was a council father at all four sessions of the Second Vatican Council. He was the newest and youngest American bishop at the start of the Council.

Starting in 1976 Hunthausen worked with Call to Action and sought to implement their program.

His tenure as bishop of Helena was marked by increased lay involvement in church matters, the establishment of a mission in Guatemala, the closure of several Catholic elementary and high schools, and the strengthening of religious education programs which function in every diocesan parish.

He was appointed Archbishop of Seattle, Washington by Pope Paul VI and retired effective August 21, 1991 (his 70th birthday).


Nuclear weapons[edit]

In 1982, Hunthausen withheld half of his income tax to protest the stockpiling of nuclear weapons and the Trident missile program which had a base nearby, in Puget Sound. In a speech, he said, “Trident is the Auschwitz of Puget Sound.”[6] This tax resistance prompted the Internal Revenue Service to garnish his wages.

Church investigation[edit]

As a result of the complaints surrounding his deviations from church doctrine, in 1983 the Vatican authorized Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to launch an investigation. Archbishop (later Cardinal) James Hickey of Washington, DC, was named apostolic visitor to the archdiocese of Seattle. Hickey's delegation met with Hunthausen and others to investigate his administrative and pastoral practices. According to Thomas Bokenkotter, "A resolution of the affair was finally announced by the Vatican in April 1989 after it accepted the report of a commission that recommended that Hunthausen’s authority be restored and a Coadjutor Archbishop be appointed. Hunthausen stoutly maintains that his archdiocese has remained fundamentally the same and was never in violation of Vatican doctrine; nor has he had to alter the general direction of his ministry or compromise his liberal beliefs."[7]

Despite the attention surrounding the visitation, Archbishop Hunthausen is remembered most for his support of the poor and disenfranchised. He was also a great advocate for the youth and encouraged better catechesis in Catholic parishes and Catholic parochial schools despite waning enrollment. In 1985, he helped establish the Institute for Theological Studies at Seattle University, which in 1996 evolved into the School of Theology and Ministry.

Archbishop Hunthausen retired in 1991 and currently resides near Helena, Montana, with his brother, Father Jack Hunthausen.[3] He still hears confessions once a week in East Helena. As of October 2011, Hunthausen is the last living American bishop to have attended all four sessions of the Second Vatican Council.


1982 Thomas Merton Award by the Thomas Merton Center for Peace and Justice

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Curtis, Georgina Pell (1961). The American Catholic Who's Who. XIV. Grosse Pointe, Michigan: Walter Romig. 
  2. ^ a b c d Capace, Nancy (2000). Encyclopedia of Montana. Somerset Publishers, Inc. 
  3. ^ a b c "Ordination Milestones". The Montana Catholic. 2011-05-20. Archived from the original on 2011-09-27. 
  4. ^ "Raymond Hunthausen". People. 1986-12-22. 
  5. ^ a b c "Archbishop Raymond Gerhardt Hunthausen". Catholic-Hierarchy.org. David M. Cheney. Retrieved 21 January 2015. [self-published source]
  6. ^ Amundson, Mavis “Local professor notes Hunthausen’s influence” West Seattle Herald 11 January 1984
  7. ^ A Concise History of the Catholic Church, Rev. and exp. ed. New York: Doubleday, 2004. 447.
Additional sources
  • John A. McCoy, A Still and Quiet Conscience: The Archbishop who Challenged a Pope, a President, and a Church, Orbis Books, 2015

External links[edit]

Episcopal succession[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Thomas Arthur Connolly
Archbishop of Seattle
Succeeded by
Thomas Joseph Murphy
Preceded by
Joseph Michael Gilmore
Bishop of Helena
Succeeded by
Elden Francis Curtiss