Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon

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Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon
Archidioecesis Portlandensis in Oregonia
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon.svg
CountryUnited States
TerritoryThe Counties West of Wasco, Crook, and Klamath.
Ecclesiastical provinceProvince of Portland
MetropolitanPortland, Oregon
Area76,937 km2 (29,706 sq mi)
- Total
- Catholics
(as of 2010)
415,000[1] (12.7%)
DenominationRoman Catholic
RiteRoman Rite
  • December 1, 1843 (as Vicariate Apostolic of Oregon Territory)
  • July 24, 1846 (Elevated to Diocese of Oregon City)
  • July 29, 1850 (Elevated to Archdiocese)
CathedralSaint Mary's Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
Patron saintImmaculate Conception
Secular priests158
Current leadership
ArchbishopAlexander King Sample
Auxiliary BishopsPeter Leslie Smith
Vicar GeneralPeter Leslie Smith
Emeritus Bishops
Archdiocese of Portland (Oregon).jpg

The Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon (Archidioecesis Portlandensis in Oregonia) is an archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It encompasses the western part of the state of Oregon, from the summit of the Cascades to the Pacific Ocean. The Archbishop of Portland serves as the Ordinary of the archdiocese and Metropolitan of the Ecclesiastical Province of Portland whose suffragan dioceses cover the entire three states of Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. The dioceses of the province include Baker (eastern Oregon), Boise (Idaho), Helena (western Montana), and Great Falls-Billings (eastern Montana).

As published in the 2013 "Oregon Catholic Directory,"[citation needed] this archdiocese serves 412,725 Catholics (out of more than 3.3 million people). There are 150 diocesan priests, 144 religious priests, 79 permanent deacons, 388 women religious, and 78 religious brothers. The archdiocese has 124 parishes, 22 missions, 1 seminary, 40 elementary schools, 10 secondary schools, and 2 Catholic colleges.


19th century[edit]

The origins of the Catholic Church in the Oregon Country derive from a July 3, 1834, petition by French Prairie settlers to priests in Canada. In response to this petition, missionary priests, Rev. Francis Xavier Norbert Blanchet and Rev. Modeste Demers arrived at Fort Vancouver on November 24, 1838. The first Mass was celebrated on January 6, 1839 at St. Paul.[citation needed]

On December 1, 1843, the Vatican established the Vicariate Apostolic of the Oregon Territory with Rev. Msgr. Blanchet as its first Vicar Apostolic. A Vicar Apostolic is a bishop in a territory which has not yet been organized as a diocese. The following year, Rev. Pierre-Jean DeSmet, S.J., and fellow priests and Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur arrived in Astoria from Belgium.

On July 24, 1846, Pope Pius IX divided the existing vicariate apostolic into three dioceses: Oregon City (Oregonopolitanus); Walla Walla (Valle Valliensis); and Vancouver Island (Insula Vancouver). That year St. Paul Church was erected.

On July 29, 1850, the Diocese of Oregon City was elevated to an archdiocese with Archbishop Blanchet continuing to serve as its first archbishop.

Rapid growth in the Pacific Northwest led to the loss of territory of the Archdiocese of Oregon City from which the Vatican created the Vicariate Apostolic of Idaho and Montana on March 3, 1868. In 1870, Catholic Sentinel was founded as the official newspaper of the archdiocese.

St. Boniface Church was erected in Sublimity, Oregon in 1889.

20th century[edit]

St Mary's Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception

Further territory was lost when the Diocese of Baker City was created on June 19, 1903. St. Mary's Church in Mount Angel was erected in 1912.

Following the death of Archbishop Alexander Christie, Edward Daniel Howard was appointed the fifth Archbishop of Oregon City on April 30, 1926.[2] His installation took place at St. Mary's Cathedral in Portland on August 26 of that year.[2] On September 26, 1928, the name of the archdiocese was changed from Oregon City to Portland in Oregon,[1] "in Oregon" being added because there was another diocese called Portland (in Maine). During his tenure as archbishop, Howard created a chancery in the cathedral rectory, later transferring it to a separate building.[3] He reorganized the St. Vincent de Paul and Holy Name Societies, fostered the growth of Catholic Charities, and removed the Catholic Sentinel from private ownership.[3]

In 1931, Howard led a successful campaign to repeal local zoning ordinances that prohibited the building of churches and parochial schools.[3] He convened the Fourth Provincial Council of the archdiocese in 1932, and held a synod for the clergy in 1935.[3] In 1939, he founded Central Catholic High School in Portland and was named an Assistant at the Pontifical Throne by Pope Pius XII in 1939.[4] He convened the Fifth Provincial Council of the Archdiocese in 1957, and attended all four sessions of the Second Vatican Council between 1962 and 1965.[3]

21st century[edit]


The Archdiocese's sexual abuse scandal prompted the archbishop to file for Chapter 11 reorganization on July 6, 2004. Portland became the first Catholic diocese to file for bankruptcy.[5][6][7] Archbishop Vlazny described his actions by saying, "This is not an effort to avoid responsibility. It is, in fact, the only way I can assure that other claimants can be offered fair compensation."[6]

Clergy sexual abuse settlements[edit]

In April 2007, the archdiocese announced a settlement had been reached and the bankruptcy court had approved a financial plan of reorganization.[8]$71.45 million was paid to 169 victims, averaging $342,000 each; this is the 8th largest Roman Catholic clergy sexual abuse settlements in the history of the U.S. Diocesan bankruptcy filings list 11 priests as perpetrators.[9]

On January 29, 2013, Bishop Alexander Sample was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI to be the new Archbishop of Portland, succeeding John George Vlazny, whose resignation was accepted at the same time.[10]

On August 6, 2016, World Spark, a retirement home provider run by Portland priest Michael Maslowsky, was forced to surrender documents showing that there had been numerous complaints of sex abuse against vulnerable residents at World Spark's St. Anthony Village elderly home, including some with dementia, between 2009 and 2016.[11] By order, the documents were given to a plaintiff from a lawsuit which began in 2014.[11] On October 1, 2018, it was revealed that Pope Francis had defrocked Maslowsky on June 4, 2018.[12]


From 1843 to 1846, the Oregon Country was an apostolic vicariate, led by Francis Norbert Blanchet. Once established as a diocese and later an archdiocese, it was led by the following ordinaries:


Bishop of Oregon City[edit]

  1. François N. Blanchet (1846-1850)

Archbishops of Oregon City[edit]

  1. François N. Blanchet (1850-1880)
  2. Charles John Seghers (1880-1884)
  3. William Hickley Gross, C.Ss.R. (1885-1898)
  4. Alexander Christie (1899-1925)
  5. Edward D. Howard (1926-1928)

Archbishops of Portland in Oregon[edit]

  1. Edward Howard (bishop)|Edward D. Howard (1928-1966)
  2. Robert Dwyer (1966-1974)
  3. Cornelius M. Power (1974-1986)
  4. William J. Levada (1986-1995), appointed Archbishop of San Francisco and later Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (elevated to Cardinal in 2006)
  5. Francis George, OMI (1996-1997), appointed Archbishop of Chicago (elevated to Cardinal in 1998)
  6. John G. Vlazny (1997-2013)
  7. Alexander K. Sample (2013-present)

Auxiliary Bishops[edit]

Other priests of this diocese who became bishops[edit]

High schools[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon". David M. Cheney. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Archbishop Edward Daniel Howard". David M. Cheney. Retrieved 23 January 2015.[self-published source]
  3. ^ a b c d e "Archbishop Edward Daniel Howard". Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Portland. Archived from the original on 2010-07-14.
  4. ^ Curtis, Georgina Pell (1961). The American Catholic Who's Who. XIV. Grosse Pointe, Michigan: Walter Romig.
  5. ^ "Portland Archdiocese ends bankruptcy with $75 million settlement". Archived from the original on 2013-04-08. Retrieved 2014-06-27.
  6. ^ a b Goodstein, Laurie (July 7, 2004). "Oregon Archdiocese Files for Bankruptcy Protection". The New York Times.
  7. ^ Stammer, Larry B. (July 7, 2004). "Oregon Diocese 1st to File Bankruptcy". Los Angeles Times.
  8. ^ "Statement from Most Rev. John G. Vlazny, Archbishop of Portland in Oregon". News release. Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon. April 17, 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-07-02. Retrieved 2014-06-27. For more than seven years the Archdiocese of Portland has been confronted with claims of child abuse by some of our priests, mostly between 1940 and 1986. By July 6, 2004, we had reached settlements with 140 victims. But on that day we filed for Chapter 11 protection in federal bankruptcy court in order to be able to continue the mission of the church and make an honest effort to compensate all remaining victims as fairly as possible. These have been difficult days for all of us and I am grateful to all our people who have continued to support the mission of the church and collaborate in the effort to resolve this crisis.
  9. ^ "Largest sexual abuse settlements by Roman Catholic institutions in the U.S."
  10. ^ "Pontifical Acts - 29 January". 2013-01-29. Retrieved 2014-06-27.
  11. ^ a b
  12. ^

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 45°31′21″N 122°38′12″W / 45.52250°N 122.63667°W / 45.52250; -122.63667