Archdiocese of Baltimore
Coat of arms
|Territory||The City of Baltimore and nine counties across central and western Maryland|
|Sui iuris church||Latin Church|
|Established||November 6, 1789 (231 years)|
|Cathedral||Cathedral of Mary Our Queen|
|Co-cathedral||Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary|
|Patron saint||Immaculate Conception|
St. Ignatius of Loyola
|Archbishop||William E. Lori|
|Auxiliary Bishops||Adam J. Parker|
|Bishops emeritus||Edwin Frederick O'Brien|
Denis J. Madden
The Metropolitan Archdiocese of Baltimore (Latin: Archidioecesis Baltimorensis) is the premier (or first) see of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States. The archdiocese comprises the City of Baltimore and 9 of Maryland's 23 counties in the central and western portions of the state: Allegany, Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Frederick, Garrett, Harford, Howard, and Washington. The archdiocese is the metropolitan see of the larger regional Ecclesiastical Province of Baltimore. The Archdiocese of Washington was originally part of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
The Archdiocese of Baltimore is the oldest diocese in the United States whose see city was entirely within the nation's boundaries when the United States declared its independence in 1776. The Holy See granted the Archbishop of Baltimore the right of precedence in the nation at liturgies, meetings, and Plenary Councils on August 15, 1859. Although the Archdiocese of Baltimore does not enjoy "primatial" status, it is the premier episcopal see of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States of America, as "prerogative of place".
Within the archdiocese are 518,000 Catholics, 145 parishes, 545 priests (244 diocesan priests, 196 priests resident in diocese), 159 permanent deacons, 55 brothers, 803 sisters, 205 lay extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, five hospitals, 28 aged homes, 7 diocesan/parish high schools, 13 private high schools, and 4 Catholic colleges/universities.
This archdiocese was featured in the Netflix documentary The Keepers exposing the sexual abuse history at Archbishop Keough High School and the murder of Sister Catherine Cesnik in 1969. It was revealed in late 2016 that the Archdiocese of Baltimore had paid off numerous settlements since 2011 for abuse victims.
Before and during the American Revolutionary War, the Catholics in Great Britain's thirteen colonies in America were under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Apostolic Vicariate of the London District in England. After the Treaty of Paris, signed on September 3, 1783, ended the war, Maryland clergy delivered a petition to the Holy See, on November 6, 1783, for permission for the missionaries in the United States to nominate a superior who would have some of the powers of a bishop. In response, Pope Pius VI on June 6, 1784, confirmed Father John Carroll, who had been selected by his brother priests, as Superior of the Missions in the newly independent thirteen United States of North America, with power to give the sacrament of confirmation. This act established a hierarchy in the United States and removed the Catholic Church in the U.S. from the authority of the Vicar Apostolic of the London District. Maryland being was one of the few regions of the colonial United States with a substantial Roman Catholic population, Pope Pius VI proceeded to erect the Prefecture Apostolic of the United States encompassing the entire territory of the United States, with its see in Baltimore, and appointed Fr. Carroll as the first Prefect Apostolic on November 26, 1784.
The same pope erected the Diocese of Baltimore, the first diocese in the United States, in the territory of the prefecture apostolic on November 6, 1789. In 1790, Father Carroll traveled to England where he was ordained and consecrated as a bishop in Lulworth Castle in Dorset, by Bishop Charles Walmesley, O.S.B. Carroll ordained the first American-born Catholic priest, William Matthews, was ordained at St. Peter's Pro-Cathedral in the Diocese of Baltimore in 1800.
On April 8, 1808, Pope Pius VII erected the Diocese of Boston, the Diocese of New York, the Diocese of Philadelphia, and the Diocese of Bardstown in Bardstown, Kentucky, taking their territory from of the Diocese of Baltimore. He simultaneously elevated the Diocese of Baltimore to a metropolitan archdiocese and designated the four new dioceses as its suffragan sees.
The archdiocese again lost territory in following decades with the creation of the Diocese of Richmond (Virginia) on July 11, 1820; and the Diocese of Wilmington (Delaware) on March 3, 1868. In between, a part of the District of Columbia had been retroceded to Virginia in 1846, so in 1850 that new piece of Virginia was transferred to the Diocese of Richmond.
On July 22, 1939, the City of Washington was erected as a separate archdiocese. The archbishop of Baltimore, Michael J. Curley, was simultaneously named the first archbishop of the new Archdiocese of Washington (D.C.) and continued to administer the two archdioceses as a single unit — in persona episcopi. The see was temporarily renamed the Archdiocese of Baltimore-Washington, in recognition of the nation's capital. Eight years later, on November 15, 1947, Patrick A. O'Boyle was appointed the second archbishop — and first residential archbishop — of the Archdiocese of Washington, which consequently began to function as a separate diocese. Therefore, the territory of the "new" archdiocese — consisting of the District of Columbia and the two Washington suburban and three southern counties of Maryland — were permanently separated from the Archdiocese of Baltimore, which was thus reduced to its current extent and resumed its previous name.
From 1808 until 1847, Baltimore was the only archdiocese in the United States and therefore the entire country was one ecclesiastical province. As the nation's population grew and waves of Catholic immigrants arrived, the Holy See continued to erect new dioceses and elevate certain others to the status of metropolitan archdioceses, which simultaneously became metropolitan sees of new ecclesiastical provinces. Thus, the Province of Baltimore gradually became smaller and smaller. In 1846, the Diocese of Oregon City, now Portland, Oregon was raised to an archdiocese. Following in 1847, the then Diocese of Saint Louis was elevated to an archdiocese and metropolitan see of the new Province of Saint Louis. Also in 1850, the Diocese of New York was raised to an archdiocese. In 1875, the dioceses of Boston and Philadelphia were likewise elevated.
The archdiocese began to publish its diocesan newspaper, The Baltimore Catholic Review since 1913 as the successor to the earlier diocesan publication The Catholic Mirror, published 1833 to 1908. The name has since been shortened to The Catholic Review. In 2012, it changed from weekly to biweekly issues and in December 2015, it transformed again to a monthly magazine.
The Plenary Councils of Baltimore were three national meetings of Catholic bishops in the United States in 1852, 1866 and 1884 in Baltimore, Maryland.
In 2016 the Archdiocese of Baltimore confirmed that settlements had been paid to past students of Seton Keough High School who were sexual abused by Father A. Joseph Maskell, a priest at the school from 1967 to 1975. In January 1970, a popular English and drama teacher at Archbishop Keough, Sister Cathy Cesnik, was found murdered in the outskirts of the city of Baltimore. Her murder was never solved and is the topic of a true crime documentary The Keepers that was released on Netflix on May 19, 2017. Maskell, who died in 2001, was long fingered as a lead suspect in her murder. Though never formally charged, the Archdiocese of Baltimore settled with 16 of Maskell's possible victims for a total of $472,000 by 2017.
A report released by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro on August 14, 2018, singled out Bishop and future Cardinal William Keeler for transferring abusive Pennsylvania priest Father Arthur Long from the Diocese of Harrisburg to the Archdiocese of Baltimore. On August 15, 2018, one day after the Pennsylvania report was published, the Archdiocese of Baltimore announced that a pre K-8 Catholic school scheduled to be opened in 2018 and named for Keeler would no longer bear his name. Despite a denial from Long's religious order and the Archdiocese of Baltimore that Long abused children while serving the Archdiocese of Baltimore, a leaked church memo written in 1995, the year Long was removed from ministry, revealed that accusations of "inappropriate behavior" had surfaced against Long in 1991 and 1992 during his time in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, and the Pennsylvania report noted that Keeler was notified of accusations of Long sexually abusing children when he was serving as Bishop of Harrisburg in 1987. Long died in 2004.
In March 2019, Archbishop Lori banned accused former Archdiocese of Baltimore Auxiliary Bishop Gordon Bennett from practicing any form of ministry in the Archdiocese of Baltimore and the suffragan Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. In April 2019, the Archdiocese of Baltimore added the names of 23 deceased clergy to a list of accused clergy which the Archdiocese published in 2002. Long, a Jesuit, was among those added to the list.
The Archdiocese of Baltimore is led by the Archbishop of Baltimore and a corps of auxiliary bishops who assist in the administration of the archdiocese as part of a larger curia. Sixteen men have served as Archbishop of Baltimore; As of 2012 , the archbishop is William E. Lori.
In 1858, the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith (Propaganda Fide), with the approval of Pope Pius IX, conferred "Prerogative of Place" on the Archdiocese of Baltimore. This decree gives the archbishop of Baltimore precedence over all other archbishops of the United States (but not cardinals) in councils, gatherings, and meetings of whatever kind of the hierarchy (in conciliis, coetibus et comitiis quibuscumque), regardless of the seniority of other archbishops in promotion or ordination.
The archbishop is concurrently the pastor of the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in Homeland in north Baltimore (donated by Thomas J O'Neill) and the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (old Baltimore Cathedral). The older cathedral is located on Cathedral Hill above downtown, near the Mount Vernon-Belvedere neighborhood. Both are called co-cathedrals. The archbishop appoints a rector for each of the co-cathedrals. The basilica, built in 1806-1821, is the first cathedral constructed in the United States (within its boundaries at the time). It is considered the mother church of the United States. During the time from the first bishop John Carroll's installation in 1790 to the dedication of the old Baltimore Cathedral in 1821, the bishop's throne (cathedra) was at St. Peter's Church (first parish in the diocese, founded 1770). It was located two blocks south on the northwestern corner of North Charles Street and West Saratoga Street, serving as the pro-cathedral with its attached rectory, school and surrounding cemetery. Old St. Peter's was across the street from the "Mother Church of the Anglican Church" in Baltimore, Old St. Paul's Church, with four successive buildings at the site beginning in 1730 at the southeast corner of Charles and Saratoga streets in downtown overlooking the harbor. St. Peter's Roman Catholic parish was razed in 1841.
The Archdiocese of Baltimore is one of only five United States dioceses that have two churches serving as cathedrals in the same city, the others being the Diocese of Honolulu; the Diocese of Burlington, the Diocese of Brooklyn and the Archdiocese of Anchorage, Alaska. Other dioceses with two cathedrals have them in separate cities.
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