Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis

The Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis (Latin: Archidiœcesis Paulopolitana et Minneapolitana) is a diocese of the Catholic Church in the United States. It is led by an archbishop who administers the archdiocese from the cities of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. The archbishop has both a cathedral and co-cathedral: the mother church, the Cathedral of Saint Paul in Saint Paul and the co-cathedral, the Basilica of Saint Mary[1] in Minneapolis.

Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis

Archidiœcesis Paulopolitana et Minneapolitana
St Paul Cathedral 2012.jpg
Cathedral of Saint Paul
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis.svg
Coat of arms
Country United States
Ecclesiastical provinceSaint Paul and Minneapolis
Area6,187 sq mi (16,020 km2)
- Total
- Catholics (including non-members)
(as of 2017)
870,490 (26.1%)
Sui iuris churchLatin Church
RiteRoman Rite
EstablishedJuly 19, 1850 (170 years ago)
CathedralCathedral of Saint Paul (Saint Paul)
Co-cathedralBasilica of Saint Mary (Minneapolis)
Patron saintSaint Paul
Current leadership
ArchbishopBernard Hebda
Auxiliary BishopsAndrew H. Cozzens
Bishops emeritusJohn Clayton Nienstedt
Lee A. Piché
Map of the Catholic archdiocese of Saint Paul & Minneapolis.svg

The archdiocese has 188 parish churches in twelve counties of Minnesota. It counts in its membership an approximate total of 750,000 people. It has two seminaries, the Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity and Saint John Vianney College Seminary. Its official newspaper is The Catholic Spirit.


Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis

In 1680, a waterfall on the Upper Mississippi River was noted observed in a journal by Father Louis Hennepin, a Belgian Franciscan Recollect and explorer. Hennepin named them the Chutes de Saint-Antoine or the Falls of Saint Anthony after his patron saint, Anthony of Padua.[2]

In 1727 René Boucher de La Perrière and Michel Guignas built Fort Beauharnois on the shore of Lake Pepin. It was the site of the first Roman Catholic chapel in Minnesota, which was dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel. Eventually it was abandoned as the French sent most of their troops to the east to fight the British in the French and Indian War.[2]

Some French-speaking colonists from Switzerland, having migrated from their original settlements near Fort Garry in Canada to a place seven or eight miles below Saint Anthony Falls, Bishop Loras of Dubuque, whose diocese included the entire region now called Minnesota, visited Fort Snelling and the nearby Swiss settlement in 1839, which was called Saint Pierre. In the following year he sent a missionary to Minnesota, Father Lucien Galtier. Galtier learned that a number of settlers, who had left the Red River Colony, had settled on the east bank of the Mississippi River. He decided that the area with the settlers was a better location for a church as it was near a steamboat landing, which had the potential for later development. Two French settlers offered a location for a church, and other settlers provided materials and labor to build a log chapel. Father Galtier wrote, "I had previously to this time fixed my residence at Saint Peter's and as the name of Paul is generally connected with that of Peter... I called it Saint Paul."[3] With the gradual increase of population about the chapel, the community developed into a village known as Saint Paul's Landing.

The original see was canonically erected by Pope Pius IX on July 19, 1850 as the Diocese of Saint Paul of Minnesota, a suffragan episcopal see of the Archdiocese of Saint Louis. The diocese's territory was taken from that of Dubuque, and its authority spread over all of Minnesota Territory, which consisted of the area which now composes the states of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota and also comprises the modern archdiocese's ecclesiastical province. Its first ordinary was Bishop Joseph Crétin. In addition to the French Canadians large contingents of Irish and German Catholics arrived, who located in St. Paul, and in places along the Mississippi, St. Croix, and Minnesota Rivers.[4] In November 1851, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet came to St. Paul, and soon opened schools at St. Paul and St. Anthony Falls.

In January 1859, Thomas Grace was named Bishop of St. Paul. The number of Catholics in the diocese continued to grow, with many coming from Bohemia and Poland. The number of priests grew with the increase of the people, and they were so chosen as to correspond to the needs of the parishes. Hospitals were opened at Minneapolis and New Ulm, orphan asylums were erected at St. Paul and Minneapolis, and homes were established for the aged poor.[4] In February 1875, St. Paul was transferred from the ecclesiastical province of St. Louis to that of Milwaukee.

John IrelandEdit

Avoca historical marker

John Ireland was born in Burnchurch, County Kilkenny, Ireland. During the Civil War he served as chaplain to the Fifth Minnesota Regiment. He was appointed coadjutor to Bishop Grace, whom he succeeded in 1884. Pope Leo XIII elevated the see to the rank of archdiocese on May 4, 1888 and its name was changed to reflect this.[5] The creation of the Diocese of Winona diminished the territory of the archdiocese by the southern section of Minnesota.

Disturbed by reports that Catholic immigrants in eastern cities were suffering from social and economic handicaps, Ireland and Bishop John Lancaster Spalding of the Diocese of Peoria, Illinois, founded the Irish Catholic Colonization Association. This organization bought land in rural areas to the west and south and helped resettle Irish Catholics from the urban slums. Various settlements such as De Graff, Clontarf (Swift Co.), Adrian (Nobles Co.), Avoca, Fulda (Murry Co.), Graceville (Big Stone Co.), Minneota, and Ghent (Lyon Co.), owe their origin and prosperity to his labours.[4]

Charlotte Grace O'Brien, philanthropist and activist for the protection of female emigrants, found that often the illiterate young women were being tricked into prostitution through spurious offers of employment. She proposed an information bureau at Castle Garden, a temporary shelter to provide accommodation for immigrants, and a chapel, all to Archbishop Ireland, who she believed of all the American hierarchy, would be most sympathetic. Archbishop Ireland agreed to raise the matter at the May 1883 meeting of the Irish Catholic Association which endorsed the plan and voted to establish an information bureau at Castle Garden, the disembarkation point for immigrants arriving in New York.[6] The Irish Catholic Colonization Association was also instrumental in the establishment of the Mission of Our Lady of the Rosary for the Protection of Irish Immigrant Girls.

Ireland was a strong supporter of the temperance movement, and of racial equality. On the other hand, his less than diplomatic relations with Eastern Catholics drove them into the Orthodox Church.[7]

The author of The Church and Modern Society (1897), Ireland opposed the use of foreign languages in American Catholic churches and parochial schools. National (ethnic) parishes were common at the time because of the large influx of immigrants to the U.S. from European countries. In this, he differed from Michael Corrigan, Archbishop of New York, who believed that the more quickly Catholics gave up their native languages, customs, and traditions in order to assimilate into a Protestant culture, the sooner they would forsake their religion as well. Different views on the so-called "Americanization" of the Catholic Church in the United States split the hierarchy in the 1890s.

Pope Paul VI once again instituted a name change for the see on July 11, 1966. Reflecting the growth of the Catholic Church in the region, it became the "Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis", the name it retains today. Archbishop John Clayton Nienstedt, succeeded to the post on the retirement of his predecessor, Archbishop Harry Flynn, on May 2, 2008.[8] He stepped down on June 15, 2015 and Bernard Hebda was named the next Archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis.[9]

In January 2015, the archdiocese filed for bankruptcy.[10] With the filing of bankruptcies by also the Diocese of Duluth and the Diocese of New Ulm, Minnesota set the record for having more Catholic bankruptcies than any other state in the United States of America.[11] In February 2018 the Diocese of St Cloud became the fourth Catholic Diocese in Minnesota to announce plans to file for bankruptcy.[12][13]

Sexual abuse cases and bankruptcyEdit

On May 31, 2018, the Archdiocese of St Paul and Minneapolis agreed to pay victims of clergy sexual abuse a total of $210 million in settlement, which awaited court approval.[14] By the time the settlement was issued, 91 priests who served in the Archdiocese of St Paul and Minneapolis were accused of sexually abusing 450 victims.[15] On June 27, 2018, the archdiocese filed for reorganization in order to find enough money to pay for the settlement.[16][17][18] Once approved, the settlement became the second largest in any Catholic bankruptcy case in United States history and largest overall for any archdiocese which was forced into bankruptcy.[19][20] On September 21, 2018, survivors of clergy abuse officially concluded a month-long vote which resulted in the approval the settlement;[21] the vote had started on August 21.[22][23] The settlement was then approved by a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge on September 25, 2018.[24]

Fr. James Porter and Fr. Curtis Wehmeyer were two of the most notorious predator priests to serve in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. In November 2012, Wehmeyer pled guilty to 20 sex abuse and child pornography charges.[25] In 2013, MPR News obtained a letter revealing that an archdiocesan official, the Rev. Kevin McDonough, had known of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis' decision in 2011 to cover up an allegation suggesting that Wehmeyer had sexually abused two brothers in his white 2006 camper.[26] When the reported abuse took place, the camper was parked outside Blessed Sacrament Church in St. Paul, where Wehmeyer served for six years and where the mother of the boys was working as well.[26] In May 2015, Wehmeyer was laicized by the Vatican while serving a five year prison sentence.[27] Though Porter, who would later be convicted in 1993 of sex abusing 28 children while serving in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fall River in Massachusetts, was never convicted for alleged sex abuse he committed in Minnesota before he left the priesthood in 1974, he would serve four months in a Minnesota prison following a December 1992 conviction involving alleged sex abuse of his children's babysitter.[28][29] The Minnesota conviction, which also came with a six month prison sentence, was overturned shortly before his 1993 Massachusetts trial and conviction.[30][26]

In May 2018, Fr. John Bertrand was sentenced to 10 years probation after pleading guilty to having sexual contact with a woman at her Mendota Heights home under the guise of mass.[31][32] In September 2020, a lawsuit was filed alleging that sex abuse was "allowed" to be committed by at least one priest at a Minnesota Catholic music camp managed by Twin Cities-based Catholic music composer David Haas.[33] Haas himself has faced previous sex abuse allegations as well.[34]

Calls for a grand jury investigationEdit

On August 22, 2018, Jeff Anderson, the St. Paul-based attorney[35] who investigated and sued the archdiocese, called for Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton to assemble a Grand Jury investigation similar to the one conducted in Pennsylvania. The proposed grand jury investigation would include the Archdiocese of St Paul and Minneapolis and all of its five suffragan dioceses.[36] Archbishop Hebda, Judge Tim O'Malley, director of Ministerial Standards and Safe Environment, and Tom Abood, chairman of the Archdiocesan Financial Council and the Reorganization Task Force, issued a joint statement stating that the archdiocese "would cooperate" with a future grand jury investigation.[37] Caroline Burns, press secretary for Governor Dayton, stated that the case was under review and that the Governor would not publicly respond until after completing this review.[36]


This is a list of the bishops who have served the archdiocese.

Bishops of Saint PaulEdit

Coadjutor Bishops of Saint PaulEdit

Archbishops of Saint PaulEdit

Coadjutor Archbishops of Saint PaulEdit

Archbishops of Saint Paul and MinneapolisEdit

Coadjutor Archbishops of Saint Paul and MinneapolisEdit

Auxiliary bishopsEdit

Other priests of the diocese who became bishopsEdit

High schoolsEdit

Independent Catholic schoolsEdit

Ecclesiastical Province of St. Paul and MinneapolisEdit

Diocesan map of the Province of Saint Paul and Minneapolis.
  Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis
  Diocese of Saint Cloud
  Diocese of Winona–Rochester
  Diocese of New Ulm
  Diocese of Duluth
  Diocese of Crookston
  Diocese of Fargo
  Diocese of Bismarck
  Diocese of Rapid City
  Diocese of Sioux Falls


North DakotaEdit

South DakotaEdit


Notable parishesEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "The Basilica of Saint Mary".
  2. ^ a b Willis, John. "Minnesota." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 10. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 14 March 2020  This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  3. ^ Risjord, Norman K. (2005). A Popular History of Minnesota. Saint Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society Press. pp. 57–58. ISBN 0-87351-532-3.
  4. ^ a b c d Schaefer, Francis. "Saint Paul (Minnesota)." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 13. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 14 Mar. 2020  This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  5. ^ Rainer, Joseph. "Milwaukee." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 10. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 13 March 2020  This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  6. ^ "'Tumbling Into the Fight' Charlotte Grace O'Brien (1845-1909); The Emigrant's Advocate". February 21, 2013.
  7. ^ O'Connell, Marvin Richard (1988). John Ireland and the American Catholic Church. Minnesota Historical Society Press. p. 271, ISBN 0-87351-230-8
  8. ^ "Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis". David M. Cheney. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  9. ^ "Home". Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis.
  10. ^ "St. Paul-Minneapolis Archdiocese files for bankruptcy over abuse claims". Los Angeles Times. January 16, 2015.
  11. ^ "New Ulm bankruptcy makes Minnesota No. 1 in church bankruptcies". Star Tribune.
  12. ^ "St. Cloud is 4th Minnesota diocese to declare bankruptcy amid abuse lawsuits". Catholic News Agency.
  13. ^ "St. Cloud Diocese to declare bankruptcy after sex abuse claims". Star Tribune.
  14. ^ "Clergy abuse victims settle with Twin Cities archdiocese for $210M". Star Tribune.
  15. ^ Madhani, Aamer. "Archdiocese paying $210 million to 450 priest sex abuse victims: Catholic 'church let you down'". USA TODAY.
  16. ^ "Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis files reorganization plan with U.S. Bankruptcy Court". June 29, 2018.
  17. ^ "Archdiocese files reorganization plan". MPR News.
  18. ^ "Archdiocese files plan for repaying sex abuse survivors". Star Tribune.
  19. ^ Fortin, Jacey (May 31, 2018). "Archdiocese in Minnesota Plans to Settle With Abuse Victims for $210 Million" – via
  20. ^ "Minnesota Archdiocese Reaches $210 Million Settlement With 450 Clergy Abuse Victims".
  21. ^ "Twin Cities clergy abuse survivors OK $210 million settlement". Star Tribune.
  22. ^ "Archdiocese bankruptcy plan headed to vote". MPR News.
  23. ^ "Twin Cities archdiocese abuse victims to vote soon on reorganization plan". August 10, 2018.
  24. ^ "$210 million St. Paul Archdiocese bankruptcy settlement approved". Star Tribune.
  25. ^
  26. ^ a b c
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^ Wilkerson, Isabel (December 8, 1992). "Ex-Priest Goes on Trial In Child-Molesting Case". The New York Times. New York City: New York Times Company. Retrieved September 9, 2020.
  30. ^ STATE of Minnesota, Respondent, v. James Robert PORTER, 526 C3 93, 358 (Supreme Court of Minnesota 1995).
  31. ^,years'%20probation%20and%20fined%20%241%2C000.
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^ Flynn, J. D. (June 16, 2020). "Catholic composer David Haas denies 'sexual battery' and coercion allegations". Catholic News Agency. Retrieved September 9, 2020.
  35. ^ [ "Jeff Anderson and Associates Contact Us"] Check |url= value (help). Retrieved 1 October 2020.
  36. ^ a b "Attorney calls on Gov. Mark Dayton to convene grand juries to look into Catholic clergy abuse". Star Tribune.
  37. ^ "After call for MN grand jury, archdiocese says it will cooperate with 'any new investigation'". August 24, 2018.
  38. ^ Only U.S. bishop to resign and leave the priesthood in response to the encyclical of Pope Paul VI, Humanae vitae.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 44°56′45″N 93°06′28″W / 44.94583°N 93.10778°W / 44.94583; -93.10778