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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. However, Wuerl still led the Archdiocese as apostolic administrator until a successor was installed.
On March 28, 2019, rumors were reported that Wilton Daniel Gregory of Atlanta had been offered the position of Archbishop of Washington. On April 4, 2019, his appointment by Pope Francis was confirmed by the Vatican. The same day, the Archdiocese of Washington announced that Archbishop Gregory would indeed be installed as the seventh Archbishop of Washington. Gregory, who was originally scheduled to be installed on May 17, 2019, was installed on May 21, 2019, becoming the first African American to lead the Archdiocese of Washington.
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. 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.
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.
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. This process of separation was officially concluded on November 15, 1947, with the appointment of Washington's first residential archbishop. 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.
Sex Abuse Scandal
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. Accused former Cardinal and Washington Archbishop Theodore McCarrick had served in each Diocese. 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. On August 15, 2019, Archdiocese priest Urbano Vazquez was convicted of 4 counts of sexual abuse involving two girls.
^"Statistics". Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington. December 6, 2016. Retrieved 2016.
^ abcAlthough 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. CurleyArchived February 21, 2015, at the Wayback Machine. Archdiocese of Baltimore. Retrieved on November 19, 2016. Archbishops of the Modern EraArchived November 20, 2016, at the Wayback Machine. Archdiocese of Baltimore. Retrieved on 2016-11-19.
^"About Us". The Catholic University of America. Retrieved 2017.