Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon

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).

Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon

Archidioecesis Portlandensis in Oregonia
St Marys Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception - Portland Oregon.jpg
St. Mary's Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon.svg
Coat of arms
CountryUnited States
TerritoryThe Counties West of Wasco, Deschutes, and Klamath.
Ecclesiastical provinceProvince of Portland
Area76,937 km2 (29,706 sq mi)
- Total
- Catholics
(as of 2016)
431,267[1] (12.5%)
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
Bishops emeritus
Archdiocese of Portland (Oregon).jpg

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.


There were thirteen Canadians in John Jacob Astor's expedition of 1810. Most were Catholic, and many, like Étienne Lucier, settled in the Willamette Valley.[2] By 1829, Lucier had established a permanent land claim next to the Willamette Fur Post near Champoeg on the French Prairie. In March 22, 1836, he and 15 other French Canadian settlers on the petitioned sent to Norbert Provencher, the titular Bishop of Juliopolis, to request a priest for the settlement. Missionary priests, Rev. François Norbert Blanchet and Rev. Modeste Demers arrived at Fort Vancouver on November 24, 1838.

On December 1, 1843, the Vatican established the Vicariate Apostolic of the Oregon Territory with Rev. Msgr. Blanchet as its first Vicar Apostolic.[3] 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 24 July, 1846, the vicariate was transformed into a province comprising the Archdiocese of Oregon City and the Dioceses of Walla Walla and Vancouver's Island.[4] That year St. Paul Church was erected.[5]

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.[4] In 1870, Catholic Sentinel was founded as the official newspaper of the archdiocese.

St. Boniface Church was erected in Sublimity, Oregon in 1889.[6]

20th centuryEdit

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.[7] His installation took place at St. Mary's Cathedral in Portland on August 26 of that year.[7] 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.[8] 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.[8]

In 1931, Howard led a successful campaign to repeal local zoning ordinances that prohibited the building of churches and parochial schools.[8] He convened the Fourth Provincial Council of the archdiocese in 1932, and held a synod for the clergy in 1935.[8] 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.[9] 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.[8]

21st centuryEdit


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.[10][11][12] 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."[11] In February 2009, the Oregon Jesuit Province also filed for bankruptcy as well.[13]

Clergy sexual abuse settlementsEdit

In April 2007, the archdiocese announced a settlement had been reached and the bankruptcy court had approved a financial plan of reorganization.[14]$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.[15]

In March 2011, the Oregon Jesuit Province agreed to pay $166.1 million in damages to nearly 500 sex abuse victims.[16]

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.[17]

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.[18] By order, the documents were given to a plaintiff from a lawsuit which began in 2014.[18] On October 1, 2018, it was revealed that Pope Francis had defrocked Maslowsky on June 4, 2018.[19]

In 2018, Portland Archbishop Alexander King Sample acknowledged the history of sex abuse in the Archdiocese of Portland, which he described as an "institutional and spiritual" failure,[20] and issued an apology.[20] At the same time, it was reported that more than 100 sex abuse lawsuits were settled prior to the 2004 bankruptcy.[20] More settlements were later issued in August 2019 when the Archdiocese of Portland agreed to pay nearly $4 million to eight men who claimed they were sexually abused by Rev. Pius Brazaukus in the 1970s and the 1980s.[21][22]


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 CityEdit

  1. François N. Blanchet (1846-1850)

Archbishops of Oregon CityEdit

  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 OregonEdit

  1. 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 BishopsEdit

Other priests of this diocese who became bishopsEdit

High schoolsEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon". David M. Cheney. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  2. ^ Blanchet, Francis Norbert. Historical Sketches of the Catholic Church in Oregon, During the Past Forty Years, Catholic Sentinel Press, 1878, p. 7  This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  3. ^ Reilly, Louis. "François Norbert Blanchet." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 2. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. 22 June 2019  This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  4. ^ a b O'Hara, Edwin. "Archdiocese of Oregon City." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 11. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 22 June 2019  This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  5. ^ Corning, Howard M. Dictionary of Oregon History. Binfords & Mort Publishing, 1956. p. 215
  6. ^ Friedman Ralph, In Search of Western Oregon, Caldwell, Idaho: Caxton Printers, Ltd., 2nd printing, 1992, pp. 376-377, ISBN 0-87004-332-3
  7. ^ a b "Archbishop Edward Daniel Howard". David M. Cheney. Retrieved 23 January 2015.[self-published source]
  8. ^ a b c d e "Archbishop Edward Daniel Howard". Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Portland. Archived from the original on 2010-07-14.
  9. ^ Curtis, Georgina Pell (1961). The American Catholic Who's Who. XIV. Grosse Pointe, Michigan: Walter Romig.
  10. ^ "Portland Archdiocese ends bankruptcy with $75 million settlement". Archived from the original on 2013-04-08. Retrieved 2014-06-27.
  11. ^ a b Goodstein, Laurie (July 7, 2004). "Oregon Archdiocese Files for Bankruptcy Protection". The New York Times.
  12. ^ Stammer, Larry B. (July 7, 2004). "Oregon Diocese 1st to File Bankruptcy". Los Angeles Times.
  13. ^
  14. ^ "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.
  15. ^ "Largest sexual abuse settlements by Roman Catholic institutions in the U.S."
  16. ^
  17. ^ "Pontifical Acts - 29 January". 2013-01-29. Retrieved 2014-06-27.
  18. ^ a b
  19. ^
  20. ^ a b c
  21. ^
  22. ^

External linksEdit

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