Roman Catholic Diocese of Birmingham in Alabama

Coordinates: 33°39′12″N 86°48′32″W / 33.65333°N 86.80889°W / 33.65333; -86.80889
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Diocese of Birmingham in Alabama

Dioecesis Birminghamiensis
Cathedral of St. Paul
Coat of arms of the Diocese of Birmingham in Alabama
Coat of arms
Country United States
TerritoryNorthern Alabama
Ecclesiastical provinceMobile
Area28,091 sq mi (72,760 km2)
- Total
- Catholics
(as of 2012)
103,900 (3.5%)
DenominationRoman Catholic
RiteRoman Rite
Established28 June 1969
(split from Diocese of Mobile-Birmingham)
CathedralCathedral of Saint Paul
Patron saintSaint Paul
Current leadership
BishopSteven John Raica
Metropolitan ArchbishopThomas John Rodi
Bishops emeritusRobert Joseph Baker

The Diocese of Birmingham in Alabama is a Latin Church ecclesiastical territory. or diocese, of the Catholic Church that encompasses the northern 39 counties of Alabama in the United States.[1] It was erected on December 9, 1969, with territory from what is now the Archdiocese of Mobile. The Diocese of Birmingham in Alabama is a suffragan diocese in the ecclesiastical province of the metropolitan Archdiocese of Mobile.

The Cathedral of Saint Paul, in Birmingham, Alabama serves as the Episcopal see of the Diocese of Birmingham in Alabama. EWTN, a major Catholic media enterprise, is located in the diocese.


1791 to 1969[edit]

After the American Revolution ended in 1791, the Birmingham area and most of Alabama was considered part of the State of Georgia. In 1793, the Vatican erected the Diocese of Louisiana and the Two Floridas centered in New Orleans to administer most of the Deep South region of the new United States.[2]

In 1837, the Vatican created the Vicariate Apostolic of Alabama and the Florida, covering all of the new State of Alabama. The vicariate was succeeded in 1834 by the Diocese of Mobile.[2] The Birmingham area would remain part of the Diocese of Mobile, succeeded by the Diocese of Mobile-Birmingham, for the next 135 years.

In 1844, St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, the first Catholic church in Tuscaloosa, was opened.[3] The first Catholic church in Birmingham was St. Paul's, opened in 1872.[4] St. Mary of the Visitation Church in Huntsville, dedicated in 1877, is the oldest Catholic church in North Alabama.[5]

1969 to 1993[edit]

Pope Paul VI erected the Diocese of Birmingham, with territory taken from the Diocese of Mobile-Birmingham, on June 28, 1969, simultaneously renaming the mother diocese to Diocese of Mobile. The pope named Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Vath as the first bishop of Birmingham.[6]

In 1980, Pope John Paul II elevated the Diocese of Mobile to a metropolitan archdiocese and designated the Diocese of Birmingham as one of its suffragans. Vath died in 1987.[7]

Reverend Raymond Boland from the Archdiocese of Washington became the next bishop of Birmingham, named by John Paul II in 1988.[8] The same pope appointed Boland as bishop of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph in 1993.

1993 to present[edit]

To replace Boland, John Paul II named David Edward Foley of Washington as bishop of Birmingham.[9] In 1999, Foley prohibited priests in his diocese, under most circumstances, from celebrating Mass in the ad orientem position. Though the decree never specifically mentioned EWTN, observers agreed that it was directed at the influence of Mother Angelica's network on the practice.[10] Foley retired in 2005. In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI named Bishop Robert Baker from the Diocese of Charleston as bishop of Birmingham. Baker retired in 2020.

The current bishop of Birmingham is Steven J. Raica, formerly bishop of the Diocese of Gaylord. He was appointed by Pope Francis in 2020.[11][12]

On February 8, 2024, the Diocese of Birmingham launched a major re-structuring program in which they temporarily passed any diocesan-level activities in the fields of religious education, evangelization, sacred music, and youth protection. As a result of the initial stage of this restructuring program, several lay employees were laid off permanently.[13]

Reports of sexual abuse[edit]

Bishop Vath in 1985 sent Reverend Charles V. Cross to the Servants of Paraclete Center in New Mexico for treatment after receiving complaints that Cross had sexually abused minors. When Cross returned to Birmingham, he was banned from any parish positions. In 1993, Robert W. Wilford accused Cross of sexual abuse during the 1960's when he was a teenager and sued the diocese in 1995. However, the case was dismissed due to the statute of limitations. In 2002, after receiving several more allegations against Cross, Bishop Foley permanently suspended him from ministry.[14]

In 2004, four priests accused of sexual abuse who served in the diocese agreed to pay a settlement of $45,000 to eleven of their victims.[15]

Reverend Francis Mary Stone (also known as David Stone) was arrested in 2013 on charges of sexually molesting his eight year-old son. He had fathered the boy with Christina Presnell, an EWTN employee, while he was serving as a host of the network's show Life on the Rock between 2001 and 2007. After the boy was born, the diocese removed Stone from public ministry. Stone was acquitted in 2016 of the sexual abuse charges.[16]

In 2018, Bishop Baker released a list of six clergy who were accused of committing acts of sex abuse while serving the diocese.[17][18] Baker stated that "they committed these deplorable acts,” and apologized to the victims.[17][18] He permanently removed the five living priests from ministry.[15]


Bishops of Birmingham[edit]

  1. Joseph Gregory Vath (1969–1987)
  2. Raymond James Boland (1988–1993), appointed Bishop of Kansas City-Saint Joseph
  3. David Edward Foley (1994–2005)
  4. Robert Joseph Baker (2007–2020)
  5. Steven John Raica (2020–present)

Other diocesan priests who became bishops[edit]


As of 2023, the Diocese of Birmingham operated 19 elementary and high schools. Four other schools in the diocese were operated independently.[21]

Elementary schools[edit]

  • Birmingham – Holy Family Catholic Academy (operated independently of diocese)
  • Birmingham – Our Lady of Sorrows CCLC
  • Birmingham – Our Lady of the Valley
  • Birmingham – St. Francis Xavier
  • Birmingham – St. Peter's Child Development Center
  • Birmingham – St. Rose Academy (operated independently of diocese)
  • Cullman – Sacred Heart
  • Decatur – St. Ann
  • Florence – St. Joseph Regional
  • Gadsden – St. James
  • Homewood – Our Lady of Sorrows
  • Hoover – Prince of Peace
  • Hoover – Prince of Peace Adventure Ark
  • Huntsville – Holy Family Regional
  • Huntsville – Holy Spirit Regional
  • Madison – St. John the Baptist
  • Tuscaloosa – Holy Spirit[21]

High schools[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Diocese of Birmingham in Alabama - Interesting Facts". Archived from the original on 2013-12-30. Retrieved 2013-01-15.
  2. ^ a b "New Orleans (Archdiocese) [Catholic-Hierarchy]". Retrieved 2023-04-06.
  3. ^ "Building on faith: The history". The Tuscaloosa News. Retrieved 2023-08-22.
  4. ^ "History". The Cathedral of Saint Paul. 2017-02-06. Retrieved 2023-08-22.
  5. ^ "About". SMVPARISH. Retrieved 2023-08-22.
  6. ^ "Bishop Joseph Gregory Vath [Catholic-Hierarchy]". Retrieved 2022-12-15.
  7. ^ "Mobile (Archdiocese) [Catholic-Hierarchy]". Retrieved 2023-06-21.
  8. ^ "Bishop Raymond James Boland [Catholic-Hierarchy]". Retrieved 2022-11-08.
  9. ^ "Bishop David Edward Foley [Catholic-Hierarchy]". Retrieved 2023-08-21.
  10. ^ "Vatican May Step In on EWTN-Mass Case". National Catholic Register.
  11. ^ "Resignations and Appointments, 25.03.2020" (Press release). Holy See Press Office. March 25, 2020. Retrieved March 25, 2020.
  12. ^ "The Roman Catholic Diocese of Birmingham in Alabama Press Kit" (PDF). Retrieved March 25, 2020.
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Bishop Suspends Priest Several Men Allege Sexual Abuse in Decatur, Birmingham in 1960s, by Greg Garrison, Birmingham News (Alabama), May 10, 2002". Retrieved 2023-08-22.
  15. ^ a b "Bishop Accountability". Retrieved May 30, 2021.
  16. ^ "Ex-EWTN priest, TV host not guilty of child sexual abuse, jury says, by Greg Garrison, (May 31, 2016)". Retrieved 2023-08-22.
  17. ^ a b WVTM 13 Digital (Dec 15, 2018). "Catholic Diocese of Birmingham releases names of 6 priests accused of child sex abuse". WVTM. Retrieved May 30, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  18. ^ a b Garrison, Greg (December 14, 2018). "Birmingham bishop releases names of priests accused of abuse". The Birmingham News. Retrieved September 18, 2020.
  19. ^ "Bishop William Dermott Molloy McDermott". David M. Cheney. Retrieved 21 January 2015.[self-published source]
  20. ^ "Rinunce e Nomine, 11.10.2019" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
  21. ^ a b c "School Finder". Diocese of Birmingham. Retrieved 2023-08-21.

External links[edit]

33°39′12″N 86°48′32″W / 33.65333°N 86.80889°W / 33.65333; -86.80889