The Gregorian Blog
Hall of Fame: Greatest American Bishops
Benedictine College's Gregorian Institute hosts the online Catholic Hall of Fame.
The Catholic Hall of Fame votes are in; here are the 10 greatest American Catholic bishops of all time, according to today's Catholic thought leaders.
To celebrate Catholic identity in public life, the Catholic Hall of Fame will present you with Catholic innovators who were the highest achievers in their fields, according to the top Catholic thinkers of our time. The Gregorian Institute at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, hosts the online Hall of Fame.
In November, we surveyed top Catholic commentators, editors and scholars to ask: "Who were America's greatest Catholic intellectuals?" The 10 included here represent those who received the most nominations.
Hall of Fame voters have included scholars such as Dr. Robert George, Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Dr. Janet Smith, George Weigel and editors such as Brian Caulfield (Knights of Columbus), David Mills (First Things), Elizabeth Scalia (Patheos), Jack Smith (Catholic Key) and Tom Wehner (National Catholic Register).
The Catholic Hall of Fame's Greatest American Catholic bishops, in the order of their birth:
Archbishop John Carroll (1735-1815). Baltimore, friend of George Washington, founder of Georgetown, he set the stage for America to be open to Catholicism and vice versa.
Bishop John Hughes (1797-1864), New York. Abraham Lincoln sent him to several European countries to head off the Confederacy. He organized against anti-Catholic mobs and built St. Patrick's Cathedral.
Saint John Neumann (1811-1860), Philadelphia. As an immigrant priest assigned to immigrants, he showed the leadership that would later build the first U.S. parochial schools. Made a bishop four years after becoming a citizen.
Cardinal James Gibbons (1834-1921), Baltimore, advisor to presidents, champion of labor, publisher of the Douay-Rheims Bible, apologetics author and lecturer. Teddy Roosevelt called him the most useful American.
Archbishop Joseph Rummel (1876-1964), New Orleans, revered as a national civil rights leader, he not only desegregated Catholic schools, he excommunicated three public officials who opposed his teaching.
Bishop Francis Xavier Ford, M.M. (1892-1952), Jiaying, China. His secretary witnessed his torture and martyrdom. He increased his flock from 9,000 to 20,000 and built schools, hostels and churches.
Bishop Fulton Sheen (1895-1979), Newport (titular), author, radio and TV personality. In 1938 he said: “The vision of the cross is fading ... the world is about to pass over into the hinterland of darkness and ruin.”
Cardinal John O' Connor (1920-2000), New York, was exactly the public face of American Catholicism the Church needed in his time. Archbishop Timothy Dolan said of him: "he had a pastoral heart and sidewalk savviness."
Cardinal Terence Cooke (1921-1983), New York, founded Birthright, Courage, and much more. On his deathbed, told Fr. Benedict Groeschel: “Don't be disheartened — because you can hear the bagpipes" of victory for the Church.
Bishop Austin Vaughn (1927-2000), New York, known for being arrested at abortion clinics. Said Father George Rutler: “As an inmate with a rosary he charmed convicts and shamed guards.”
The Gregorian Institute at Benedictine College, Kansas, is promoting Catholic identity in public life at a time when Pope Benedict XVI is raising the alarm that the Church needs to raise its voice in the public square. We are named for Pope St. Gregory the Great, the leading intellectual in Benedictine history, who laid the groundwork of Western Civilization as we know it by combining practical leadership and intellectual depth.
Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas. The school is proud to have been named one of America’s Best Colleges by the Cardinal Newman Society, U.S. News & World Report and First Things magazine. Benedictine College prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging.
Note: All Hall of Fame entries have been revised to include 10 inductees.