Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington

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Metropolitan Archdiocese of Washington

Archidiœcesis Metropolitae Vashingtonensis
Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle (Washington, D.C.).jpg
ADW Masthead
Coat of arms
CountryUnited States
TerritoryDistrict of Columbia plus counties of Montgomery, Prince George's, St. Mary's, Calvert, and Charles in Maryland[1]
Ecclesiastical provinceWashington
HeadquartersHyattsville, Maryland
Area2,104 sq mi (5,450 km2)
- Total
- Catholics (including non-members)
(as of 2017)
655,601[2] (22.0%)
DenominationCatholic Church
Sui iuris churchLatin Church
RiteRoman Rite
EstablishedJuly 29, 1939[3][4] (83 years ago)
CathedralCathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle
Patron saintOur Lady of the Immaculate Conception[5]
Current leadership
ArchbishopCardinal Wilton Daniel Gregory
Metropolitan ArchbishopCardinal Wilton Daniel Gregory
Auxiliary BishopsMario E. Dorsonville
Roy Edward Campbell
Bishops emeritusCardinal Donald William Wuerl
Francisco González Valer
Archdiocese of Washington.jpg
Archdiocese of Washington Masthead

The Archdiocese of Washington is a Latin Church ecclesiastical territory or archdiocese of the Catholic Church in the United States. Its territorial remit encompasses the District of Columbia and the counties of Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George's and Saint Mary's in the state of Maryland. It was originally part of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

The archdiocese crosses a state line. Three other U.S. Latin Church dioceses (Wilmington, Norwich and Gallup) also do this, but they each have territory in more than one state.[citation needed]

The Archdiocese of Washington is home to The Catholic University of America, the only national university operated by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)[6] and Georgetown University, the oldest Catholic and Jesuit institution of higher education in the country.

In addition, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, a minor basilica dedicated to the nation's patroness, the Immaculate Conception, is located within it, and it is not the archdiocesan cathedral (nor even a parish of the archdiocese). The cathedral of the archdiocese is the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in downtown Washington.


The Pastoral Center in Hyattsville, Maryland

The ordinary of the Archdiocese of Washington is an archbishop whose cathedra is in the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in the City of Washington and who is metropolitan of the Ecclesiastical Province of Washington. Its sole suffragan see is the Diocese of Saint Thomas in the United States Virgin Islands.

The first Archbishop of Washington was Michael Joseph Curley, appointed in 1939.[7] Eight years later, on November 15, 1947, the archdiocese received its first residential archbishop, with the appointment of Patrick Aloysius O'Boyle. Cardinal Donald Wuerl served as the most recent ordinary of the archdiocese. Wuerl resigned as Archbishop of Washington on October 12, 2018, in the wake of revelations about his poor handling of incidents of sex abuse when he served as Bishop of Pittsburgh.[8] However, Wuerl still led the archdiocese as apostolic administrator until a successor was installed.[9][10]

On March 28, 2019, rumors were reported that Wilton Daniel Gregory of Atlanta had been offered the position of Archbishop of Washington.[11][12] On April 4, 2019, his appointment by Pope Francis was confirmed by the Vatican.[13][14] The same day, the Archdiocese of Washington announced that Archbishop Gregory would indeed be installed as the seventh Archbishop of Washington.[15] Gregory, who was originally scheduled to be installed on May 17, 2019,[15] was installed on May 21, 2019, becoming the first African American to lead the Archdiocese of Washington.[16] Pope Francis raised Wilton Daniel Gregory to the rank of cardinal at a consistory held in Rome on November 28, 2020. He is the first American with African ancestry to become a Roman Catholic cardinal.


On March 25, 1634, the first Catholic Mass in the English-speaking colonies was celebrated by Fr. Andrew White, S.J., on St. Clement's Island, Maryland, in what is now part of the Archdiocese of Washington.[17] The Catholic founders of the Maryland settlement then established the colony as a place of religious freedom. During the colonial era, however, when others took power, Catholics would become a persecuted people suffering the wrath of oppression allowed by local penal laws.[17]

Upon the founding of the United States, a Jesuit priest, Father John Carroll, was elected head of the missionary territory (later Prefecture Apostolic) of the United States. In 1789 the Diocese of Baltimore (later the Archdiocese of Baltimore) was established with Carroll as its first bishop, and given ecclesiastical jurisdiction over the entire nation.[18]

On July 22, 1939, Pope Pius XII created the Archdiocese of Washington from territory which was then within the Archdiocese of Baltimore, with a single prelate serving as the archbishop of both archdioceses, two ecclesiastical jurisdictions united in persona episcopi.[19][4][17] The Archdiocese dates its founding from 1939.[20] On November 15, 1947, Pope Pius appointed Washington's first residential archbishop.[4][17] The Archdiocese of Washington became a metropolitan see on October 12, 1965, when the Diocese of Saint Thomas became its first (and, so far, only) suffragan see.

Sex abuse scandal[edit]

On September 26, 2018, it was announced that the Archdiocese of Washington was now one of four American Catholic dioceses under investigation by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops for reports of sex abuse.[21] Accused former cardinal and Washington archbishop Theodore McCarrick had served in each diocese.[21] On October 15, 2018, the Archdiocese of Washington released the names of 31 clergy who served in the archdiocese and were credibly accused of sexually abusing minors since 1948.[22][23][24] On August 15, 2019, archdiocesan priest Urbano Vazquez was convicted of four counts of sexual abuse involving two girls.[25] On November 22, 2019, Vazquez was sentenced to 15 years in prison.[26]

In October 2019, the Washington Post reported that police were investigating an allegation that the former Bishop of Wheeling-Charleston, Michael Joseph Bransfield, had molested a 9-year-old girl during a September 2012 pilgrimage to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., while on a trip led by Bransfield.[27] Prior to being appointed bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston in 2004, Bransfield long served at the Basilica, being named assistant director and director of liturgy (1980), director of finance (1982), and director (1986) at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.[28][29] The Archdiocese of Washington was subpoenaed for documents in connection with the investigation.[27] Bransfield denied the allegation.[27] In December 2019, the Washington Post revealed that Bransfield had paid $350,000 to Vatican and church officials during a sex abuse probe against him.[30][31] The "hush money" payments involved acts of sex abuse he reportedly committed when he was at the Basilica in the 1980s.[30][31] The same report also revealed that during his time as Archbishop of Washington, McCarrick used his "Archbishop's Special Fund" to make similar hush money payments in order to cover acts of sex abuse he had committed in other Catholic dioceses.[30][31][32] The archdiocese took in nearly a third less money in its 2019 annual fundraising appeal, which had been renamed from "Cardinal's Appeal" to "Annual Appeal", in the wake of the scandals.[33]


The list of bishops and their terms of service:

Archbishops of Washington[edit]

  1. Michael Joseph Curley (1939–1947), concurrently the Archbishop of Baltimore
  2. Cardinal Patrick Aloysius O'Boyle (1947–1973)
  3. Cardinal William Wakefield Baum (1973–1980), appointed Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education and later Major Penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary
  4. Cardinal James Aloysius Hickey (1980–2000)
  5. Theodore Edgar McCarrick (2001–2006; former cardinal, laicized for sexual abuse)[34]
  6. Cardinal Donald William Wuerl (2006–2018)
  7. Cardinal Wilton Daniel Gregory (2019–present)

Auxiliary bishops[edit]

Other priests of the diocese who became bishops[edit]



The archdiocese centralized school administration as part of its Center City Consortium, which was established in 1997.[35]

High schools


Colleges and universities[edit]


Archdiocesan cemeteries[edit]

In addition to the nearly four dozen of its parishes which have their own cemeteries,[36] the archdiocese owns and operates five major cemeteries:[37]

Two former parish cemeteries are also operated by the archdiocese:

Province of Washington, D.C.[edit]

Ecclesiastical Province of Washington map

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Archdiocese of Washington".
  2. ^ "Statistics". Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington. December 6, 2016. Retrieved December 18, 2016.
  3. ^ "75th Anniversary". Archdiocese of Washington. Retrieved October 20, 2020. Cardinal Donald Wuerl, then-archbishop of Washington, celebrated a special Mass for the 75th anniversary of the Archdiocese of Washington at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle on September 21, 2014.
  4. ^ a b c Although the archdiocese was created on July 29, 1939, it shared its first archbishop with the Archdiocese of Baltimore — Archbishop Curley — who continued to administer the two archdioceses as a single unit, until Washington's first residential archbishop was appointed on November 15, 1947. Most Rev. Michael J. Curley Archived February 21, 2015, at the Wayback Machine. Archdiocese of Baltimore. Retrieved on November 19, 2016. Archbishops of the Modern Era Archived November 20, 2016, at the Wayback Machine. Archdiocese of Baltimore. Retrieved on 2016-11-19.
  5. ^ "Coat of Arms".
  6. ^ "About Us". The Catholic University of America. Retrieved February 1, 2017.
  7. ^ Acta Apostolicae Sedis (PDF). Vol. XXXI. 1939. p. 691. Retrieved October 20, 2020.
  8. ^ Chappell, Bill (12 October 2018). "Pope Accepts Resignation Of D.C. Archbishop Donald Wuerl Amid Sex Abuse Crisis".
  9. ^ "So Long, Cardinal Wuerl | Ed Condon". First Things.
  10. ^ White, Christopher (October 12, 2018). "Wuerl resigns amid papal praise, will stay as interim administrator". Crux. Retrieved December 19, 2018.
  11. ^ "Wilton Gregory likely new DC archbishop; would be 1st African-American to lead DC church: report". FOX News WTTG. 29 March 2019.
  12. ^ Condon, Ed; Flynn, J. D. (March 28, 2019). "Archbishop Wilton Gregory asked to lead Washington archdiocese". Catholic News Agency.
  13. ^ "Resignations and Appointments".
  14. ^ "Pope Francis appoints new Archbishop for Washington - Vatican News". April 4, 2019.
  15. ^ a b "Pope Francis Names Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory as New Archbishop of Washington". Archdiocese of Washington.
  16. ^ "Wilton Gregory installed as new archbishop of Washington".
  17. ^ a b c d About Us. Archdiocese of Washington. Retrieved November 19, 2016.
  18. ^ "Prefect Apostolic". The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 12. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. Retrieved August 6, 2012.
  19. ^ Acta Apostolicae Sedis (PDF). Vol. XXXI. 1939. pp. 668–70. Retrieved October 20, 2020.
  20. ^ "Historic Moments". Archdiocese of Washington. Retrieved 2022-02-02.
  21. ^ a b "Bishops to investigate 4 dioceses after Pope nixes Vatican McCarrick probe". 26 September 2018. Retrieved 2022-02-02.
  22. ^ Boorstein, Michelle; Zauzmer, Julie. "Washington Catholic Archdiocese releases names of 31 clergy members 'credibly accused' since 1948 of sexually abusing minors" – via
  23. ^ Lam, Kristin. "Washington Catholic Archdiocese names of 31 priests credibly accused of abuse since 1948". USA Today.
  24. ^ "Washington diocese names 31 ex-clergy accused of abuse".
  25. ^ Alexander, Keith L. "Catholic priest found guilty of sexually abusing girls at his D.C. parish" – via
  26. ^ Wagner, Paul (November 22, 2019). "DC priest sentenced to 15 years in prison for sexually abusing kids at Shrine of the Sacred Heart". FOX 5 DC.
  27. ^ a b c Shawn Boburg & Robert O'Harrow Jr., Former W.Va. bishop Michael Bransfield is under police investigation for alleged abuse of 9-year-old girl on church trip, Washington Post (October 3, 2019).
  28. ^ Rutkowski, Ryan (2010). Catholic West Virginia. Arcadia Publishing. p. 20. ISBN 9780738586397. Retrieved December 28, 2019.
  29. ^ "Bishop Michael J. Bransfield". Bishop Accountability. Retrieved December 28, 2019.
  30. ^ a b c Boburg, Shawn; Robert Jr, O'Harrow; Harlan, Chico. "Ousted cardinal McCarrick gave more than $600,000 to fellow clerics, including two popes, records show" – via
  31. ^ a b c "Report says McCarrick fund gave more than $600,000 to clerics, two popes". Catholic San Francisco.
  32. ^ "Washington Post: Former Newark archbishop accused of abuse gave more than $600K to fellow clerics". News 12 - New Jersey.
  33. ^ Donations to D.C. Catholic archdiocese's key appeal down nearly a third after year of controversy (Washington Post)
  34. ^ Zauzmer, Julie; Boorstein, Michelle; Hedgpeth, Dana. "Cardinal McCarrick, former archbishop of Washington, accused of sexual abuse and removed from ministry" – via
  35. ^ Palestini, Robert H. (2008-09-24). Catholic School Administration: Theory, Practice, Leadership. DEStech Publications, Inc. p. 315. ISBN 9781885432445.
  36. ^ Parish Cemeteries from the official website of the Catholic Cemeteries of the Archdiocese of Washington
  37. ^ History from the official website of the Catholic Cemeteries of the Archdiocese of Washington

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 38°57′11″N 76°59′7.4″W / 38.95306°N 76.985389°W / 38.95306; -76.985389