Raymond Hunthausen

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Raymond Gerhardt Hunthausen
Archbishop of Seattle
AppointedFebruary 25, 1975
Term endedAugust 21, 1991
PredecessorThomas Arthur Connolly
SuccessorThomas Joseph Murphy
OrdinationJune 1, 1946
by Joseph Michael Gilmore
ConsecrationAugust 30, 1962
by Egidio Vagnozzi, Bernard Joseph Topel, and William Joseph Condon
Personal details
Born(1921-08-21)August 21, 1921
Anaconda, Montana
DiedJuly 22, 2018(2018-07-22) (aged 96)
Helena, Montana
BuriedSt. James Cathedral Crypt
Seattle, Washington
Previous postBishop of Helena (1962–1975)
EducationCarroll College
University of Notre Dame
St. Edward Seminary
MottoThy will be done
Styles of
Raymond Gerhardt Hunthausen
Mitre (plain).svg
Reference style
Spoken styleYour Excellency
Religious styleArchbishop
Ordination history of
Raymond Hunthausen
Episcopal consecration
Consecrated byEgidio Vagnozzi
DateAugust 30, 1962
Episcopal succession
Bishops consecrated by Raymond Hunthausen as principal consecrator
William S. SkylstadMay 12, 1977
Lawrence WelshDecember 14, 1978

Raymond Gerhardt Hunthausen (August 21, 1921 – July 22, 2018) was an 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 was the last surviving American to have participated as a bishop in the Second Vatican Council.

Early life and education[edit]

The oldest of seven children, Raymond Gerhardt 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 grew up helping with the grocery business and working in the Tuchscherer brewery.

Nicknamed "Dutch", he received his early education from the Ursuline nuns at the parochial school, 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 chemistry 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 ministry[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 in 1975. 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 alleged 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. The investigation concluded that Hunthausen had exercised "weak doctrinal leadership" in a number of areas, including allowing children to receive the sacrament of Communion without first having received the sacrament of penance.[7]

Donald Wuerl, later Bishop of Pittsburgh and Archbishop of Washington, was controversially named an auxiliary bishop with special powers. According to Thomas Bokenkotter, "A resolution of the affair was finally announced by the Vatican in April after it accepted the report of a commission that recommended that Hunthausen's authority be restored and a coadjutor bishop be appointed.[8] 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."[9] Thomas Joseph Murphy, Bishop of the Diocese of Great Falls–Billings was appointed coadjutor in 1987.

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.

Retirement and Death[edit]

Archbishop Hunthausen retired on August 21, 1991, his 70th birthday and resided near Helena, Montana, with his brother, Father Jack Hunthausen.[3] He continued to hear confessions once a week in East Helena, and led retreats in the Helena diocese. As of October 2011, Hunthausen was the last living American bishop to have attended all four sessions of the Second Vatican Council.

On July 22, 2018, he died in his home in Helena at the age of 96. He is the second archbishop interred in the crypt at St. James Cathedral.


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

  • The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Collegiate Hall of Fame


  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. May 20, 2011. Archived from the original on September 27, 2011.
  4. ^ "Raymond Hunthausen". People. December 22, 1986.
  5. ^ a b c "Archbishop Raymond Gerhardt Hunthausen". Catholic-Hierarchy.org. David M. Cheney. Retrieved January 21, 2015.[self-published source]
  6. ^ Amundson, Mavis "Local professor notes Hunthausen's influence" West Seattle Herald January 11, 1984
  7. ^ Fromherz, Frank. "Raymond Hunthausen, retired archbishop of Seattle, dies at age 96", National Catholic Reporter, July 22, 2018
  8. ^ Chandler, Russell. "Pope Restores Full Powers to Hunthausen", The Los Angeles Times, May 27, 1987
  9. ^ 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
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

External links[edit]