Bishopalooza! Great American Bishops -UPDATED

Recently the Gregorian Institute polled some Catholic bloggers and writers, asking them to name the top ten American Catholic Intellectuals, lay or clergy.

I was flattered to be among those polled, but never did manage to participate. For the record, the (slightly controversial) Top Ten came in as follows:

1. Orestes Brownson (1803–1876)
2. John Courtney Murray (1904-1967)
3. John Senior (1923-1999)
4. Avery Dulles (1918-2008)
5. James Schall (1928-)
6. Ralph McInerny (1929-2010)
7. Richard John Neuhaus (1936-2009)
8. Mary Anne Glendon (1938-)
9. George Weigel (1951-)
10. Robert P. George (1955-)

Last week, Gregorian sent around another invitation to vote for the Greatest American Bishops, and this time, I managed to participate. The votes are tallied, I’m sure there will be disagreement in places, but here is how it broke down (according to date of birth, not number of votes):

Archbishop John Carroll (1735-1815)
Bishop John Hughes (1797-1864)
*Saint John Neumann, (1811-1860)
Cardinal James Gibbons (1834-1921)
Archbishop Joseph Rummel (1876-1964)
Bishop Francis Xavier Ford, M.M. (1892-1952)
Bishop Fulton Sheen (1895-1979)
Cardinal John O’ Connor (1920-2000)
Cardinal Terence Cooke (1921-1983)
Bishop Austin Vaughan (1927-2000)
Archbishop Charles Chaput (1944-)

The list includes most of my own picks and I am particularly pleased to see a personal hero of mine, (the mighty priest, military chaplain, founder of the Sisters of Life, public advocate, AIDS minister) John Joseph O’ Connor, in their growing “Hall of Fame”!

In his weekly column, Pat McNamara, has profiled two of those listed, the inimitable Archbishop John “Dagger John” Hughes and the courageous Bishop Francis Xavier Ford.

How about you? Any names you believe are “missing” or do not belong on the list? What would your top ten have looked like?

As this November draws to a close, and Advent approaches, all you holy men and women of the church, pray for us!
Cardinal John Joseph O’ Connor pray for us!

UPDATE: You will notice that the “top ten” is now numbering eleven: Tom Hoopes, who is running the shebang wrote and said, “I can’t believe no one thought of Saint John Neumann!” And I did a facepalm because…yeah…I couldn’t believe it, either.

So he made an executive decision and added Neumann, which I doubt anyone will argue with.

I suspect we all forgot Neumann because he’s a saint. Probably seemed like a different category to our subconscious minds. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Hellllooooooo, Neumann! Pray for us!

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Kathy Schiffer

    There are some names to be revered on these lists, to be certain. But where, on the first list, is Cardinal Francis George? And on the second list, where is Archbishop Timothy Dolan?

  • Gregg the Obscure

    As much as I esteem Abp. Chaput, his placement on the list may be a bit premature. He’s nearly a decade away from retirement, barring anything unforeseen.

    The late Abp. Hannan of New Orleans would seem a good man to add to the list, as would Abp. Chaput’s predecessor in Philly, St. John Neumann.

  • Manny

    Cardnal O’Connor is my personal hero too! I am so happy he made the list. I truly wished he had been our Bishop during the NY State gay marriage debate. He would not have wimped out.

  • Sean Gallagher

    I would include Bishop Simon Brute, the first bishop of Vincennes, IN (which later became the Archdiocese of Indianapolis). Before becoming a bishop, he was the spiritual director of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and was highly involved in the priestly formation at Mount St. Mary’s in Emmitsburg, Md. of several men who went on to be great bishops in the U.S. in the mid-19th century, including the legendary Archbishop John Hughes of New York (an advisor of President Lincoln during the Civil War).

    When he became bishop of Vincennes in 1834, the diocese included the entire state of Indiana and the eastern third of Illinois, including a small village on Lake Michigan called Chicago. He only had two priests to assist him.

    By the time he died five years later, the future of that local Church on the frontier was looking up. His cause is now being promoted. You can learn more about it here:

  • Deacon Mike Talbot

    Any list of Bishops that would not include the late Archbishop Philip Hannan is woefully incomplete. He soothed a nation through the Kennedy assasination, restored New Orleans spiritually after Hurricane Betsy and then for another 23 years, brought Pope John Paul II to New Orleans and, in “retirement” began a worldwide television program and a Catholic television station as well. At his death just two months ago, he was the last American bishop to have been an active voting member at Vatican Council II. A giant in the life of the Church and a true servant of the People of God!

  • Dan C

    John Neumann is not on this list? Seriously?

    The Devil’s Advocate once commenting on Neumann during the promotion of his cause commented essentially that John Neumann was a big ball of average. He is well known to continue to provide miracles for people in the Philadelphia Archdiocese. He is a model of holiness. I’ll take that average any day.

    [Look again! They added him over at Gregorian; I have to update-admin]

  • Deacon Norb

    Archbishop John Rummel of New Orleans! I always mention him in my programs on “The American Catholic Experience.” He desegregated the Diocesan Catholic Schools in New Orleans and — along the way — was hailed as a “Communist” by several ardent segregationists who were lay Roman Catholic folk. Somewhere I have a copy of this photo where three of those segregationists are kneeling and praying in his presence (no doubt trying to convict him of sin) and he is totally ignoring them.

  • JRT

    We LOVE Saint John Neumann here in Philadelphia (and our new archbishop Chaput too!)

  • Stephen Taylor

    I think Archbishop Joseph Kurtz should have been on that list. He took a diocese rocked by sex scandals, one of the worst hit, the Archdiocese of Louisville, and has brought healing and true pastoral concern for every person in the diocese.

  • Evon

    A Catholic friend of mine often sang the praises of John Ireland. I was told he championed English speaking in American Catholic schools which in turn influenced the speaking of English in public schools.

    In doing research on Germans in America, I read that some local school boards in German communities not only used the German language in their schools, they would not permit English to be taught as an elective in high school.

  • Dan C

    Neumann eschewed power, showed up in the diocese and then immediately made his way to get a criminal condemned to repent. He took care of immigrants and orphans, and quite frankly was unloved by the powerful, wealthy, and old money Catholics.

    That is why he was forgotten. He is the bishop of the little. And the poor. Any visit to his shrine would note the wonderful disproportion of those damaged by society who make their way to beg his intercession.

  • Todd

    I like the inclusion of Fulton Sheen who was sent to Rochester, New York at the age of 71. There he advocated for improved race relations, the support of poor inner city parishes, and opposition to the Vietnam War. He also favored the notion of his successor being named from the diocese’s clergy.

    The inclusion of an active bishop just seems wrong. It’s good to reflect on people who have gone before us in the faith, and have done well to inspire others. Less good to assemble the faithful for an ideological pep rally.

  • Jen

    AB Dolan. AB Burke.

  • Dave

    Also liked the inclusion of “JJ” O’Connor. Was just beginning my Navy career as he was finishing his. Was able to meet him once & serve under his leadership for a short time. Corresponded with him once when he was in Scranton. Still learning things about him now. He left a very definite imprint on me and on the Navy he loved.

  • Lawrence Cunningham

    The late Cardinal Bernardin who was a wonderful pastor, generous and forgiving when unjustly accused, and a true witness as he was dying. Besides: he was Italian by background and a Southerner by birth.