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Michael Francis Burbidge (born June 16, 1957) is an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church who is the current Bishop of Arlington.[1] On October 4, 2016, Burbidge was appointed as the fourth bishop of the Diocese of Arlington. He was installed on December 6, 2016.[2]

Michael Francis Burbidge
Bishop of Arlington
AppointedOctober 4, 2016
InstalledDecember 6, 2016
PredecessorPaul S. Loverde
OrdinationMay 19, 1984
by John Krol
ConsecrationSeptember 5, 2002
by Anthony Bevilacqua, Edward Peter Cullen, and Robert P. Maginnis
Personal details
Birth nameMichael Francis Burbidge
Born (1957-06-16) June 16, 1957 (age 62)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
DenominationRoman Catholic
ResidenceArlington, Virginia
ParentsFrancis and Shirley Burbidge
Previous postAuxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia
Titular Bishop of Cluain Iraird
Bishop of Raleigh
Alma materSt. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Villanova University, Immaculata University
MottoWalk Humbly With Your God
Coat of armsMichael Francis Burbidge's coat of arms
Styles of
Michael Francis Burbidge
Coat of arms of Michael Francis Burbidge (Arlington).svg
Reference style
Spoken styleYour Excellency
Religious styleBishop


Early life and educationEdit

Michael Burbidge was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Roman Catholic parents, Francis and Shirley Lilley Burbidge. He has a brother, Francis Burbidge. Upon being confirmed, Burbidge chose Francis as his confirmation name. As a teenager he worked at a Sears department store.[3]

He graduated from Cardinal O'Hara High School in Springfield in 1975, and then entered St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, from which he obtained a B.A. in Philosophy and M.A. in Theology.[4][5]

He also holds a M.Ed. in Educational Administration from Villanova University and a Ed.D. from Immaculata University.[6]

Ordination and ministryEdit

Burbidge was ordained to the priesthood by John Cardinal Krol on May 19, 1984. He then served as associate pastor at St. Bernard's Church in Philadelphia until 1986, and taught at Cardinal O'Hara High School from 1986 to 1990.

From 1990 to 1991, Burbidge served on the faculty of Archbishop Wood High School in Warminster, becoming dean of students at St. Charles Seminary in 1991. He was secretary to Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua from 1992 to 1999, and was raised to the rank of Honorary Prelate of His Holiness in 1998. In 1999, he was named rector of St. Charles Seminary.

Auxiliary Bishop of PhiladelphiaEdit

On June 21, 2002, Burbidge was appointed an auxiliary bishop of Philadelphia and titular bishop of Cluain Iraird by Pope John Paul II.[6] He received his episcopal consecration on the following September 5 from Cardinal Bevilacqua, with Bishops Edward Cullen and Robert Maginnis serving as co-consecrators.

As an auxiliary, Burbidge worked in the Archdiocesan Office Center to assist the archbishop with administrative duties, including overseeing the office of the Vicar for Clergy, Office of Communications, and The Catholic Standard & Times. He also served as a regional bishop.

Bishop of RaleighEdit

Coat of Arms as Bishop of Raleigh

Burbidge was named Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Raleigh in North Carolina by Pope Benedict XVI on June 8, 2006.[6] Replacing Bishop Francis Gossman, he was installed on the following August 4 at Raleigh's Sacred Heart Cathedral. Burbidge announced the building of a new cathedral for the Diocese of Raleigh, called the Cathedral of the Holy Name of Jesus. Building preparations began in 2013.[7] Ground breaking for the new cathedral occurred in 2014, and it was completed in 2017.[8]

After the tornado outbreak of April 2011 in which 24 people were killed and over 800 homes were destroyed, Burbidge urged Catholics to include victims and survivors of the storms in their Holy Week prayers.[9] He directed the Diocese of Raleigh's ninety-five parishes and mission churches to hold a special collection for a disaster relief fund to be used to help survivors.[10]

In 2012 Burbidge, along with Peter J. Jugis, the Bishop of Charlotte, supported North Carolina Amendment 1, urging North Carolinian Catholics to vote for the amendment and criticizing U.S. President Barack Obama's opposition to the amendment[11] The Amendment defined civil marriage as between one man and one woman. Those opposed to the amendment argued that it was discriminatory against LGBTQ people. Burbidge argued that the legislation was not discrimination.[12] Burbidge received criticism for supporting the legislation.[13] The amendment was found unconstitutional in federal court on October 10, 2014.

In 2013, Burbidge was one of many clerical leaders to show support for the Moral Mondays protests in North Carolina, a movement started by religious progressives encouraging civil disobedience and arguing for reforms to North Carolina laws regarding the environment, racial justice, gender equality, social programs, education, and other issues, by signing A Joint Statement by Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic and United Methodist Leaders in North Carolina, although he did not permit Catholic priests to join the protests.[14][15][16]

On June 26, 2015 the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges, legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States. Burbidge responded to the ruling with an official statement saying, "the true definition of marriage cannot be redefined by courts" and reiterated the Catholic Church's official teachings on marriage. He ended his statement saying that "we are to treat and engage one another in mutual and lasting respect."[17]

On 6 May 2016 at a media luncheon, Burbidge openly criticized the controversial North Carolina Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, a law which requires individuals to only use restrooms that correspond to the sex on their birth certificates and was seen as discriminatory against members of the LGBTQ community. Burbidge proposed that "...another remedy to the unfortunate situation created by the Charlotte Ordinance and HB2 should be considered..."[18] and hoped that any legislative solution would, "defend human dignity; avoid any form of bigotry; respect religious liberty and the convictions of religious institutions; work for the common good; and be discussed in a peaceful and respectful manner."[19]

On November 29, 2016 Burbidge celebrated his last public mass as Bishop of Raleigh at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church in Cary before leaving to be installed as the new Bishop of Arlington of December 6, 2016.[20]

Sexual abuse in the Diocese of RaleighEdit

In March 2007 a group of protesters, some alleged victims of clerical sexual abuse, stood outside the offices for the Diocese of Raleigh, claiming that Burbidge refused to meet with them. Diocese spokesman Frank Morock denied those claims, stating that the diocese "has always been very open to any victim who has stepped forward."[21]

In July 2015 a three judge panel ruled to allow a lawsuit against the Diocese of Raleigh over an allegation of child sexual abuse by a priest to advance.[22] The North Carolina Court of Appeals rejected arguments made by lawyers representing Burbidge that claimed allowing the lawsuit to advance into trial would violate the constitutional separation of church and state. The case involved allegations of sexual abuse of a sixteen year old boy by Edgar Sepulveda, a Catholic priest of the Santa Teresa del Niño Jesús Mission in Beulaville, North Carolina.[23] Sepulveda denied the accusations. Sepulveda had been arrested in 2010 and charged with second-degree sexual offense and sexual battery but the charges were dropped by Brunswick County prosecutors citing a lack of evidence. Burbidge put Sepulveda on administrative leave, prohibiting him from visiting any parish or Catholic school, and removed him from residence on church grounds.[24] The lawsuit claimed that Burbidge was negligent and inflicted further emotional distress on the victim by refusing to order Sepulveda to undergo testing for sexually transmitted diseases and then share results with the victim's family.[25] Burbidge's lawyers denied that church officials had any knowledge of Sepulveda's alleged actions.[26]

In 2013 Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests criticized Burbidge and Bishop Peter J. Jugis of Charlotte for not warning families in their dioceses about Raymond P. Melville, a former Catholic priest accused of sexual abuse in Maine and in Maryland, who had moved to North Carolina.[27][28]

Bishop of ArlingtonEdit

Burbidge was appointed Bishop of Arlington, Virginia, by Pope Francis on October 3, 2016[29] replacing retiring Bishop Paul Loverde. He was officially installed as the fourth Bishop of Arlington on December 6, 2016 at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More. The mass was attended by over 1,200 Catholics, including Catholic leaders such as Cardinal Justin Francis Rigali, Archbishop Emeritus of Philadelphia, Cardinal Donald William Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, former Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington, Metropolitan Archbishop William E. Lori, Archbishop of Baltimore, and Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States.[30]

On October 4, 2016 the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests criticized the Vatican's appointment of Burbidge to the Diocese of Arlington, claiming he has shown no leadership in the church's sex abuse crisis.[31]

Burbidge released a statement on October 6, 2016 where he vowed to continue the Diocese' outreach for victims of clerical sexual abuse and to personally reach out to victims.[32] He continued on the outreach program, holding masses for healing for victims of abuse.[33]

In January 2017, Burbidge spoke out against U.S. President Donald Trump's Executive Order 13769 which barred refugees and immigrants from Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Iran, Iraq, and Yemen from entering the United States for 90 days, limited the number of refugee arrivals to the United States to 50,000 for 2017, suspended the United States Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days, and barred Refugees of the Syrian Civil War from entering the United States indefinitely.[34][35] Burbidge went on to encourage American Catholics to contact their elected officials and voice their opposition to the new policy and to pray for immigration reform, stating that the Diocese of Arlington and other Catholic communities would continue to be hospitable to refugees.[36][37][38]

On July 26, 2017 Burbidge, accompanied by his successor Luis Rafael Zarama, returned to the Diocese of Raleigh to celebrate the mass and give the homily at the dedication of the Cathedral of the Holy Name of Jesus.[39][40]

Following the Unite the Right rally that took place August 11–12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia to protest the removal of the Robert Edward Lee Sculpture in Emancipation Park, Burbidge spoke out calling the events that ensued "saddening and disheartening." He went on to condemn violence, racism, bigotry, hatred and "self-proclaimed superiority", denouncing "any form of hatred as a sin."[41][42][43][44]

On August 22, 2017 Fr. William Aitcheson, a priest in the Diocese of Arlington, admitted to having been a member of the Ku Klux Klan while an undergraduate student at the University of Maryland in the 1970s. Upon Aitcheson's announcement that he would be temporarily stepping down from his post at St. Leo the Great Catholic Church in Fairfax, Burbidge released a statement referring to Aitcheson's past as "sad and deeply troubling" while hoping that his conversion of heart would inspire others.[45][46]

In September 2017 Burbidge responded to U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to rescind Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals by calling on Catholics to keep all people protected by DACA, and all government officials, in their prayers. He referred to Trump's decision as "disheartening" and stated that the United States government has a responsibility to protect those who are in the United States under the protection of DACA.[47]

On August 3, 2018 Burbidge expressed his anger and sadness regarding the allegations of sexual abuse by former Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick, former Archbishop of Washington.[48] He stated that bishops must be held accountable for their actions.[49][50]

On February 13, 2019 Burbidge and Barry C. Knestout, bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Richmond, released a list of clergy that had credibly been accused of sexual abuse in their dioceses between 1974 and 2019.[51]

Personal lifeEdit

Burbidge was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2018 and was treated through surgery on November 27, 2018.[52]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Bishop Burbidge Transferred to Diocese of Arlington - Diocese of Raleigh". Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  2. ^ "North Carolina bishop will be the new leader of Northern Virginia Catholics".
  3. ^ Herald, Catholic. "Five facts about Bishop Burbidge". Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-18. Retrieved 2007-12-08.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b c "RINUNCE E NOMINE" (in Latin). Holy See. 8 June 2006.
  7. ^ "Bishop Burbidge Announces Plans for New Cathedral Campus", Diocese of Raleigh website (retrieved 14 February 2012)
  8. ^ "Cathedral to replace old Raleigh orphanage" Archived 2013-12-18 at the Wayback Machine (retrieved 12 December 2013)
  9. ^ "N. Carolina bishop calls for prayers and support after deadly tornadoes". Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  10. ^ "North Carolina bishop asks prayers for tornado victims, survivors". Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  11. ^ Steelman, Ben (20 April 2012). "Faith leaders on both sides of Amendment One". Star-News.
  12. ^ "N.C. bishops criticize Obama stand against marriage amendment". Catholic News Agency. 23 March 2012.
  14. ^ "Diocesan Response to Letter in N&O - Diocese of Raleigh". Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  15. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-02-03. Retrieved 2017-02-03.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ "Faith Leaders Voice Support for Moral Mondays". 11 June 2013. Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  17. ^ "Bishop Burbidge responds to the Supreme Court's decision regarding civil marriage". Roman Catholic Diocese of Raleigh. 26 June 2016. English and Spanish
  18. ^ "Catholic Bishop Burbidge asks people to discuss HB2 in a peaceful, respectful manner". Columbia Broadcasting System. May 6, 2016. Retrieved May 6, 2016.
  19. ^ Stradling, Richard (May 6, 2016). "Catholic bishop of Raleigh diocese: Replace HB2". The News & Observer. Retrieved May 6, 2016.
  20. ^ "Bishop Burbidge to celebrate final NC mass in Cary on Tuesday". Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  21. ^ "Raleigh's Diocese Accused of Sex Abuse Cover-Up". WRAL. Capitol Broadcasting Company. 15 March 2007. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  22. ^ "NC--Victims applaud new ruling in pedophile priest case". Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. 7 July 2015. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  23. ^ "NC Appeals Court allows priest sex abuse lawsuit to proceed". WXII News. Hearst Television. 7 July 2015. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  24. ^ Biesecker, Michael (7 July 2015). "NC Appeals Court allows priest sex abuse lawsuit to proceed". The Washington Times. Larry Beasley. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  25. ^ "DOE 200 v. DIOCESE OF RALEIGH". Find Law. 7 July 2015. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  26. ^ "Court allows priest sex abuse lawsuit to proceed". Winston-Salem Journal. Berkshire Hathaway. 8 July 2015. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  27. ^ Harrison, Judy (12 November 2013). "Supreme court rules against Augusta man in his suit against Catholic diocese over priest abuse". Bangor Daily News. Bangor Publishing Company. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  28. ^ "NC - Alleged predator priest, now in NC, gets "off the hook"". Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. 19 November 2013. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  29. ^ "Pope Francis Appoints New Bishop of Arlington"(retrieved 3 October 2016)
  30. ^ "Bishop Michael F. Burbidge is installed as the fourth Bishop of Arlington". Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  31. ^ "VA--Vatican names new northern VA bishop; Victims respond". Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. 4 October 2016. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  32. ^ Neal Augenstein (4 October 2016). "New bishop of Diocese of Arlington vows to reach out to sex abuse victims". WTOP. Retrieved 18 August 2018. Bishop Michael Burbidge, newly-appointed Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, vows to personally reach out to victims of clergy sexual abuse, and “to accompany them in this process of healing.”
  33. ^ "Bishop Burbidge to Preside at Bilingual Mass for Healing, February 26". St. James Catholic Church. 21 February 2018. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  34. ^ San Martin, Inés (30 January 2017). "Catholic bishops describe Trump refugee order as 'shameful' and a 'dark moment'". Crux. Crux Catholic Media Inc.
  35. ^ Maraist, Zoey (1 February 2017). "Protesters gather at airport over refugee ban, greet arriving travelers". Catholic News Agency.
  36. ^ "Arlington Bishop Voices Solidarity With Refugees – AlexandriaNews". Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  37. ^ Catholic News Agency (30 January 2017). "Doctor cleared after having family 'hold down' patient during euthanasia". Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Archived from the original on 3 February 2017. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  38. ^ "US Bishops, Others Oppose Trump Executive Order Addressing Refugee Admissions". National Catholic Register. 30 January 2017. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  39. ^ "What is under Raleigh's big copper dome? You can see on Wednesday; here's a preview". Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  40. ^ "First mass held at new Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral in Raleigh". Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  41. ^ "Bishops asks for peace after white nationalist rally turns deadly". Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  42. ^ "Bishops ask for peace after white nationalist rally turns deadly". 14 August 2017. Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  43. ^ "Catholic bishops condemn white supremacist rally that left one dead in Charlottesville". 12 August 2017. Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  44. ^ "Statement from Bishop Burbidge on the Violence in Charlottesville". Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  45. ^ Hedgpeth, Dana; Boorstein, Michelle (22 August 2017). "'My actions were despicable': Catholic priest steps down after revealing he was a Ku Klux Klan member decades ago". Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  46. ^ "Priest asks forgiveness for having been KKK member years ago as young man". 23 August 2017. Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  47. ^ "Trump's Decision to End DACA Program Criticized By Local Leaders". 5 September 2017. Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  48. ^ Michael Burbidge (3 August 2018). "Walk Humbly Podcast". Catholic Diocese of Arlingon. Retrieved 18 August 2018. In the August 3, 2018 episode of the Walk Humbly Podcast, Bishop Burbidge expressed his sadness and anger regarding the allegations of sexual abuse by Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, former Archbishop of Washington.
  49. ^ "Statement By Michael F. Burbidge, Bishop of Arlington, on the Accusations Related to Archbishop Theodore McCarrick". Saint James Catholic Church. 2 August 2018. Retrieved 18 August 2018. We all must be held accountable for our actions—bishops are no exception.
  50. ^ "Roundup: Bishops React to Sexual Abuse Scandal". National Catholic Register. EWTN. 12 August 2018. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  51. ^ "Virginia's two dioceses release lists of clergy credibly accused of abuse". Catholic News Herald. Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte. 15 February 2019. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  52. ^ "22 - New podcast with Bishop Burbidge, January U.S. Bishops' meeting, Advent and more". Bishop Burbidge - On the Air The Walk Humbly Podcast. Catholic Diocese of Arlington. December 18, 2018. Retrieved January 21, 2019.

External linksEdit