Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh (Latin: Dioecesis Pittsburgensis) is a Roman Catholic diocese. It was established in Western Pennsylvania on August 11, 1843. The diocese includes 188 parishes and 225 churches in the counties of Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Greene, Lawrence, and Washington, an area of 3,786 square miles (9,810 km2) with a Catholic population of 632,138 as of 2016. The cathedral church of the diocese is the Cathedral of Saint Paul. As of July 2018, the diocese had 202 active priests.[better source needed]
Diocese of Pittsburgh
St. Paul Cathedral
Coat of arms
|Territory||Pennsylvania counties of Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Greene, Lawrence, and Washington|
|Ecclesiastical province||Province of Philadelphia|
|Headquarters||111 Boulevard of the Allies |
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
|Area||3,786 sq mi (9,810 km2)|
|(as of 2016)|
|Established||August 11, 1843|
|Cathedral||Saint Paul Cathedral|
|Patron saint||Mary Immaculate (primary) and St. Paul the Apostle (secondary)|
Bishop of Pittsburgh
|Metropolitan Archbishop||Charles J. Chaput|
Archbishop of Philadelphia
|Auxiliary Bishops||William J. Waltersheid, Auxiliary Bishop|
|Vicar General||Very Rev. Lawrence A. DiNardo, VG, JCL|
|Bishops emeritus||William J. Winter, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus|
The Fifth Provincial Council of Baltimore, which was held in May 1843, recommended the erection of the Diocese of Pittsburgh and nominated Michael O'Connor, Vicar General of Western Pennsylvania and pastor of St. Paul's Church in Pittsburgh, as its first Bishop. The Diocese of Pittsburgh was erected from the Diocese of Philadelphia on August 11, 1843.
O'Connor was consecrated bishop in Rome August 15, 1843, and on his return stopped in Ireland to recruit clergy for his new diocese, obtaining eight seminarians from Maynooth College and seven Sisters of Mercy from Dublin. He arrived in Pittsburgh in December 1843. In 1844, he founded a girls' academy and St. Paul's orphan asylum, a chapel for African Americans, the Pittsburgh Catholic and St. Michael's Seminary. To serve the German immigrants in his diocese, he welcomed the Benedictine monks who founded Saint Vincent Archabbey in Latrobe, the first Benedictine monastery in the United States, and to further education he invited the Franciscan Brothers of Mountbellew in Ireland, who established the first community of religious brothers in the United States in Loretto.
Territory was reduced by the creation of the Diocese of Erie on July 29, 1853. Bishop O'Connor resigned in 1860 to enter the Society of Jesus. He was succeeded by Vincentian Father Michael Domenec, pastor of St. Vincent de Paul in Germantown. The panic of 1873 was a fiscal disaster for the Pittsburgh diocese. In 1876, Bishop Domenec became Bishop of the short-lived Diocese of Allegheny was created out of the Pittsburgh diocese on January 11, 1876. He was succeeded in Pittsburgh by Bishop John Tuigg, who, after Domenec's retirement in 1877, found himself apostolic administrator of Allegheny as well. Tuigg managed to extricate the diocese from its financial difficulties, but suffered a stroke and retired. The territory of allegheny was reincorporated into Pittsburg on July 1, 1889.
Tuigg was followed by his coadjutor Richard Phelan on December 7, 1889. People of many nationalities came in large numbers to find work in the mines and mills of Western Pennsylvania; Phelan saw to it that they were supplied with pastors who could speak their own languages. The Diocese of Altoona was formed from Pittsburg on May 30, 1901. Phelan died December 20, 1904 and was succeeded by Bishop Regis Canevin.
Hugh Boyle was appointed the sixth Bishop of Pittsburgh on June 16, 1921. During his 29-year tenure, he earned a reputation as one of the leading Catholic educators in the nation, and sponsored a comprehensive school-building program in the diocese, most notably asking the Brothers of the Christian Schools to establish Central Catholic High School. During World War II, Boyle served as chairman of the National Catholic Welfare Council's Committee for Polish Relief. Upon the death of Bishop Boyle, John Dearden succeeded him as the seventh Bishop of Pittsburgh on December 22, 1950. The Diocese of Greensburg on March 10, 1951, was created out of Pittsburgh diocesan territory.
Bishop Dearden was appointed Archbishop of Detroit on December 18, 1958; John Joseph Wright became Bishop of Pittsburg. Bishop Wright attended the Second Vatican Council (1962–65), during which he was a decisive force behind several of its documents. On April 23, 1969 Pope Paul VI appointed Wright as the Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, and thus the highest-ranking American in the Roman Curia.
After Bishop Wright was named to head the Congregation for the Clergy, Vincent Leonard was appointed the ninth Bishop of Pittsburgh on June 1, 1969. During his tenure, he became one of the first bishops in the United States to make his diocesan financial reports public, and established a due-process system to allow Catholics to appeal any administrative decision they believed was a violation of canon law. Leonard resigned as Bishop of Pittsburgh on June 30, 1983, due to arthritis. Anthony Bevilacqua was named the tenth Bishop of Pittsburgh on October 7, 1983. He succeeded Bishop Leonard and was installed as Bishop on December 12 of that year. He was a member of the 1987 world Synod of Bishops, on the role of laity in the church and world. On December 8, 1987 Pope John Paul II appointed Bevilacqua Archbishop of Philadelphia.
Donald Wuerl was appointed the eleventh bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh on February 12, 1988. Despite the financial condition of the diocese, Bishop Wuerl decided to expand health services. Bishop Wuerl worked with hospitals and community groups to create a group home for people suffering from AIDS, this when AIDS was little understood and almost always fatal. In 2003, Bishop Wuerl conducted a successful $2.5 million fundraising campaign to create the Catholic Charities Free Health Care Center. The clinic primarily serves the uninsured working poor. Under Bishop Wuerl, the diocese had to reorganize itself in response to demographic changes, the decline of the steel industry, and the church's weak financial position. That process was officially completed in March 1994. Wuerl closed 73 church buildings, which included 37 churches, and reduced 331 parishes by 117 through merging while bishop of Pittsburgh; he was managing the remaining 214 parishes when he left in June 2006.
In 2012, the Pittsburgh diocese was the first of 42 Catholic groups to file 12 federal lawsuits against the Obama administration for implementing a regulation that would force them to facilitate access to contraceptives and other medical products whose use violates church teaching. Speaking of the regulation Bishop Zubik said, “The mandate would require the Catholic Church as an employer to violate its fundamental beliefs concerning human life and human dignity ..." These cases were consolidated and made it to the Supreme Court as Zubik v. Burwell.
As of May 2018, the diocese was preparing to consolidate its 188 parishes into 57 multi-parish groups. The integration process will formally begin in October 2018 and will last two to five years. The multi-parish groups will consist of two to seven nearby churches. A pastor-led team for each group will serve the needs of its parishes during consolidation. As the parish communities are consolidated, they will be combined into new parishes. The bishop will receive three suggested names for each new parish and detailed recommendations on how parish programs should be individually tailored.
As of 2018, it was the practice of the diocese to hold a twice-yearly "The Light is On For You" campaign to help Catholics who have lost connection to the church to return to the sacrament. The campaign reaches out to Catholics who have not been to confession for years and makes it as convenient as possible for them to return. During the campaign confession is available at all churches for extended hours.
There is a separate Wikipedia article for the short-lived Diocese of Allegheny, which was then suppressed (its territory being rejoined to Diocese of Pittsburgh).
Bishops of PittsburghEdit
- Michael O'Connor (1843-7/1853), appointed Bishop of Erie
- Michael O'Connor (12/1853-1860)
- Michael Domenec (1860-1876), appointed Bishop of Allegheny
- John Tuigg (1876-1889)
- Richard Phelan (1889-1904)
- Regis Canevin (1904-1921), retired and appointed titular Archbishop
- Hugh Boyle (1921-1950)
- John Dearden (1950-1958), appointed Archbishop of Detroit (elevated to Cardinal in 1969)
- John Wright (1959-1969), appointed Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy (elevated to Cardinal in 1969)
- Vincent Leonard (1969-1983)
- Anthony Bevilacqua (1983-1987), appointed Archbishop of Philadelphia (elevated to Cardinal in 1991)
- Donald Wuerl (1988-2006), appointed Archbishop of Washington (elevated to Cardinal in 2010)
- David Zubik (2007-present)
- Richard Phelan (1885-1889)
- Regis Canevin (1903-1904)
- John Dearden (1948-1950)
- Coleman F. Carroll (1953-1958), appointed Bishop and later Archbishop of Miami
- Vincent Martin Leonard (1964-1969), appointed Bishop of Pittsburgh
- John Bernard McDowell (1966-1996)
- Anthony G. Bosco (1970-1987), appointed Bishop of Greensburg
- William J. Winter (1989-2005)
- Thomas J. Tobin (1992-1996), appointed Bishop of Youngstown and later Bishop of Providence
- David Zubik (1997-2003), appointed Bishop of Green Bay and later Bishop of Pittsburgh
- Paul J. Bradley (2004-2009), appointed Bishop of Kalamazoo
- William J. Waltersheid (2011-present)
Other bishops who once were priests of the Diocese of PittsburghEdit
The following men began their service as priests in Pittsburgh before being appointed bishops elsewhere:
- Edward J. Burns, appointed Bishop of Juneau in 2009 and later Bishop of Dallas
- Howard Joseph Carroll, appointed Bishop of Altoona in 1957
- William G. Connare, appointed Bishop of Greensburg in 1960
- Nicholas C. Dattilo, appointed Bishop of Harrisburg in 1989
- Daniel DiNardo, appointed Coadjutor Bishop (in 1997) and Bishop of Sioux City and later Coadjutor Bishop, Coadjutor Archbishop, and Archbishop of Galveston-Houston (elevated to Cardinal in 2007)
- Norbert Felix Gaughan (priest here, 1945-1951), appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Greensburg in 1975 and later Bishop of Gary
- Jerome Daniel Hannan, appointed Bishop of Scranton in 1954
- Ralph Leo Hayes, appointed Bishop of Helena in 1933 and later Rector of the Pontifical North American College and Bishop of Davenport
- Bernard A. Hebda, appointed Bishop of Gaylord in 2009 and later Coadjutor Archbishop of Newark and Archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis
- Adam J. Maida, appointed Bishop of Green Bay in 1983 and later Archbishop of Detroit (elevated to Cardinal in 1994)
- Tobias Mullen, appointed Bishop of Erie in 1868
- James O'Connor, appointed Vicar Apostolic of Nebraska in 1876 and later Bishop of Omaha
- Cyril John Vogel (priest here, 1931-1951), appointed Bishop of Salina in 1965
The Diocese of Pittsburgh's elementary and secondary schools educate approximately 17,000 students and employ nearly 1,500 teachers, making its school system the fourth largest in Pennsylvania. As of March 2018, the Catholic school system in the diocese operates 69 elementary, pre-K and special schools. The diocese says that enrollment in its school system has fallen by 50 percent since 2000.
In March 2018, the diocese announced the merger of two elementary schools and the closure of one school. Saint Rosalia Academy in Greenfield was closed at the end of the academic year. The closure was endorsed by the Pittsburgh-East Regional Catholic Elementary Schools Advisory Board. North American Martyrs School and the Saint Bernadette School, both K-8 institutions in Monroeville, will merge at the start of the 2018-2019 school year. Bishop Zubik has said the new school would be known as the Divine Mercy Academy.
In January 2020, the Pittsburgh-East Regional Catholic Elementary Schools (PERCES) announced the closure of East Catholic School in Forest Hills and Saint Maria Goretti in Bloomfield. The organization cited significant enrollment declines and growing debt as reasons for the closures. Their programs will be shutdown at the end of the 2019-2020 school year. In addition to the closures, PERCES announced that Saint Anne School in Castle Shannon, Saint Bernard School in Mount Lebanon, Our Lady of Grace School in Scott Township, and Saint Thomas More School in Bethel Park will merge to form one unified school program, starting in the 2020-2021 school year. The program will have two preschool through eighth grade sites: one at Saint Thomas More and one at Saint Bernard.
- Bishop Canevin High School, Pittsburgh
- Central Catholic High School, Pittsburgh
- North Catholic High School, Cranberry Township
- Oakland Catholic High School, Pittsburgh
- Quigley Catholic High School, Baden
- Serra Catholic High School, McKeesport
- Seton-La Salle Catholic High School, Mt. Lebanon
- St. Joseph High School, Harrison Township
Private or IndependentEdit
- Aquinas Academy, Hampton Township
- Our Lady of the Sacred Heart High School, Moon Township
- Vincentian Academy, McCandless Township
Three Catholic colleges and universities operate within the diocese: Duquesne University, Carlow University, and La Roche College. While affiliated with the Catholic Church, they only receive indirect support from the diocese, such as tuition support for students who previously studied at Catholic grade schools or high schools.
Every year the diocese holds the Medallion Ball, a debutante ball, that honors young women who perform at least 100 hours of eligible volunteer work. The proceeds from the event benefit St. Lucy's Auxiliary to the Blind. In 2002, a Joan of Arc Medallion was awarded to a young woman with Down's Syndrome who had volunteered as a teacher's assistant. In 2013, a medallion winner was legally blind and had volunteered with a therapeutic horseback-riding program. It is common for attendees to perform more than 800 hours of volunteer work.
Sexual abuse casesEdit
Anthony Cipolla was ordained in 1972. In 1978, he was charged with sexual abuse of a 9-year-old boy; these charges were dropped by the mother, who said she was pressured to do so by Bishop Vincent Leonard. In 1988 new charges were brought by Tim Bendig who said that Cipolla abused him from around 1981 to 1986; this case was settled in 1993, over Cipolla's objections. Cipolla consistently said that he never abused anyone. In 1988, the diocese, by then under the leadership of Bishop Wuerl, banned Cipolla from ministry and from identifying himself as a priest; Cipolla appealed to the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican's highest court, which ordered Bishop Wuerl to return him to ministry. Bishop Wuerl asked the court to reconsider the case on the grounds that its decision showed a lack of awareness of crucial facts such as a civil lawsuit and Cipolla's 1978 arrest for sexually abusing another boy. The court reversed its ruling in 1995 and upheld Cipolla's ban. Cipolla nonetheless continued to minister to the public forcing the diocese to make several public statements that Cipolla was not in good standing. In 2002, Cipolla was laicized by the pope.
At the time of Wuerl's appointment to Pittsburgh, three priests were on administrative leave for molesting two brothers. Their parents originally asked for the priests to be removed from ministry but pressed criminal and civil charges after reflecting on their moral duty to protect others. Bishop Wuerl's advisors unanimously suggested that he not visit the family. Bishop Wuerl decided that it was his duty to minister to their pain. Wuerl said, "The lawyers could talk to one another, but I wasn't ordained to oversee a legal structure. As their bishop I was responsible for the Church's care of that family, and the only way I could do that was to go see them." Father Zubik accompanied him to this meeting. The diocese settled the civil suit, and two of the priests in question were sentenced to prison. They were never allowed to return to ministry. Charges against the third priest were impossible due to the statute of limitations. This priest was forced to retire and forbidden to say mass for anyone by nuns in the convent he was assigned to live in. After seeing the damage inflicted upon their lives and faith, Wuerl implemented a "zero tolerance" policy against sexual abuse. The Diocese of Pittsburgh was among the first Catholic authorities to seriously address sexual abuse. Carefully preparing candidates for the priesthood for a life of celibacy was a key part of Wuerl's reforms.
Bishop Wuerl called a mandatory meeting to inform all priests that sexual contact with a minor was not merely a sin that could be forgiven, but a crime that would result in permanent removal from the ministry and maybe prison. Priests were instructed to report any allegation of sexual abuse committed by a priest or church employee to the chancery. The diocese created the Diocesan Review Board in 1989 to offer evaluations and recommendations to the bishop on the handling of all sexual abuse cases.
It is the policy of the Diocese of Pittsburgh to refer all allegations of child sexual abuse to law enforcement regardless of their credibility. Credible allegations of sexual abuse result in immediate removal from ministry. By direction of Bishop Wuerl, the diocese has had an internal policy on sexual misconduct since 1989. This policy was formalized in 1993, updated in 2002, and updated again in 2003.
Bishop Zubik handed off the case of Rev. David Dzermejko to the Vatican after a diocese review board found that allegations of child sexual abuse against Dzermejko were credible. Dzermejko was removed as pastor of Mary, Mother of the Church in Charleroi in June 2009 after a couple informed the diocese that he had sexually abused their son. Another man came forward to say that Dzermejko had abused him as a child. Dzermejko was removed within 48 hours of the diocese receiving the first allegation.
Grand jury investigationEdit
In early 2016, a grand jury investigation, led by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, began an inquiry into sexual abuse by Catholic clergy in six Pennsylvania dioceses: Pittsburgh, Allentown, Scranton, Harrisburg, Greensburg, and Erie. The Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia were not included, as they had been the subjects of earlier investigations. Numerous appeals to the state supreme court raised constitutional issues such as due process, fairness, deprivation of the right to personal reputation protected by the state constitution, and the inability of many named members of the Catholic clergy to defend themselves against accusations presented in the reports.
On August 5, 2018, Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik sent letters confirming the Diocese of Pittsburgh would cooperate with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court order and release the list of clergy accused of sex abuse when the grand jury report is made public. The letters were read during mass across the six-county diocese. In his letter, Bishop Zubik noted that the diocese implemented policies to deal with sexual abuse 30 years ago. Clergy, church employees, and volunteers are all required to go through sexual abuse training programs and criminal background checks. Zubik also noted that 90 percent of all the allegations in the report related to the diocese of Pittsburgh occurred before 1990. The grand jury report was released on August 14. A total of 99 priests listed in the grand jury report served in the Diocese of Pittsburgh.
The report also stated that some priests in the Diocese of Pittsburgh ran a child porn ring in the 1970s and 1980s and also "used whips, violence and sadism in raping their victims." The children who were sexually molested and had their pictures taken for the child porn ring were given gold crosses so they would be recognized by other abusive priests who sought to use them.
The Diocese of Pittsburgh has steadily improved the quality of screening and training for future priests to ensure that only those men capable of leading a healthy celibate lifestyle are ordained, as well as posting on its website the names of 83 priests in abuse claims.
Reorganization - On Mission for the Church ALIVE!Edit
On October 15, 2018, the most comprehensive reorganization of the Diocese of Pittsburgh went into effect. This was the beginning of the implementation of a diocesan-wide planning initiative which changed the diocesan parish structure from 188 individual parishes to 57 parish groupings served by clergy teams. By 2023, there will only be 57 parishes in the diocese. The goal of the reorganization is to bring together resources of various parishes in order to bring about "vibrant parishes and effective ministries." The changes were triggered by decreasing Mass attendance in the area and a declining amount of priests - by 2025 the Diocese of Pittsburgh will have about half the active priests it does currently.
- Catholic Church in the United States
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- List of Roman Catholic archdioceses (by country and continent)
- List of Roman Catholic dioceses (alphabetical) (including archdioceses)
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- List of the Catholic dioceses of the United States
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St. Paul is our secondary patron with Mary, under the title of her Immaculate Conception, being our primary patroness.
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