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Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington is a particular church of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States. It comprises the District of Columbia and Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George's and Saint Mary's counties in the state of Maryland.

Archdiocese of Washington

Archidioecesis Vashingtonensis
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington.svg
CountryUnited States
TerritoryDistrict of Columbia plus counties of Montgomery, Prince George's, St. Mary's, Calvert, and Charles in Maryland[1]
Ecclesiastical provinceWashington
Area2,104 sq mi (5,450 km2)
- Total
- Catholics
(as of 2014)
630,823[2] (22.0%)
DenominationRoman Catholic
RiteRoman Rite
EstablishedNovember 15, 1947[3] (71 years ago)
CathedralCathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle
Patron saintSt. Matthew
Current leadership
Metropolitan ArchbishopSede Vacante
Auxiliary BishopsMario E. Dorsonville
Roy Edward Campbell
Michael William Fisher
Apostolic AdministratorDonald Wuerl
Emeritus BishopsDonald Wuerl
Theodore Edgar McCarrick
Francisco González Valer
Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, D.C.
The Pastoral Center in Hyattsville, Maryland

The Archdiocese of Washington is home to The Catholic University of America, the only national university operated by the bishops conference of the United States[4] and Georgetown University, the oldest 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, is located within and administered by it, and, although it is not the Archdiocesan cathedral (nor even a parish of the Archdiocese), it is the site of its Easter and Christmas Masses.



The ordinary of the Archdiocese of Washington is an archbishop whose cathedra is 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 in 1939. Eight years later, on November 15, 1947, the archdiocese received its first residential archbishop, with the appointment of Patrick Aloysius O'Boyle. Donald William Cardinal 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.[5]


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.[6] 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.[6]

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.[7]

On July 22, 1939, Pope Pius XII separated the cities of Washington and Baltimore, creating two archdioceses (Baltimore and Washington), under the oversight of one archbishop in persona episcopi.[3][6] This process of separation was officially concluded on November 15, 1947, with the appointment of Washington's first residential archbishop.[3][6] 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.


The list of bishops and their terms of service:

Archbishops of WashingtonEdit

  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 (2000–2006)[8]
  6. Cardinal Donald William Wuerl (2006–2018)

Auxiliary BishopsEdit

Reports of Sexual AbuseEdit

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.[9] Accused former Cardinal and Washington Archbishop Theodore McCarrick had served in each Diocese.[9] 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.[10][11][12]


High schoolsEdit


Archdiocesan cemeteriesEdit

In addition to the nearly four dozen of its parishes which have their own cemeteries,[13] the archdiocese owns and operates five major cemeteries:[14]

Two former parish cemeteries are also operated by the archdiocese:

Province of Washington, D.C.Edit

Ecclesiastical Province of Washington map

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Archdiocese of Washington
  2. ^ "Statistics". Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington. December 6, 2016. Retrieved December 18, 2016.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ "About Us". The Catholic University of America. Retrieved February 1, 2017.
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b c d About Us. Archdiocese of Washington. Retrieved November 19, 2016.
  7. ^ "Prefect Apostolic". The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 12. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. Retrieved August 6, 2012.
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ a b
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ Parish Cemeteries from the official website of the Catholic Cemeteries of the Archdiocese of Washington
  14. ^ History from the official website of the Catholic Cemeteries of the Archdiocese of Washington

External linksEdit