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Archbishop-elect adiaphora

While looking for more information on Seattle’s new Metropolitan Archbishop, I came across a couple of interesting asides.

According to his introductory remarks yesterday, Bishop Sartain only got the call from the nuncio just a week before the announcement here and yesterday’s short-notice welcome liturgy. As I said, as late as Tuesday some key (lay) leadership in the diocese were still unaware of the pending announcement, and at least as late as Monday most priests of the diocese were likewise unaware. Pretty remarkable then that so many were able to gather for the welcome liturgy on Thursday, which our Cathedral staff documented nicely here.

The other interesting aside was the official announcement on Vatican Information Service, which seemed to make the archdiocese much larger than i thought it was. I cross-checked the diocesan statistics, and found a couple of discrepancies.  Below is the blurb from VIS

VATICAN CITY, 16 SEP 2010 (VIS) – The Holy Father appointed Bishop James Peter Sartain of Joliet in Illinois, U.S.A., as metropolitan archbishop of Seattle (area 64,269, population 5,141,000, Catholics 964,000, priests 313, permanent deacons 104, religious 551), U.S.A. The archbishop-elect was born in Memphis, U.S.A. in 1952, he was ordained a priest in 1978 and consecrated a bishop in 2000. He succeeds Archbishop Alexander J. Brunett, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit

VIS has the total population of the archdiocese at 964,000 – nearly double the archdiocesan statistic of 577,400. Instead of 313 priests, our statistics indicate a total of 290. Though when you add up the constituent numbers indicated by the diocese, you get another number entirely, 322. (131 active diocesan; 63 retired, ‘absent’, or active elsewhere; 96 religious; 32 externs). 100 deacons instead of 104, not so far off. Only 486 religious (men and women), though, instead of 551 – and it is not clear if the priest-religious are counted here as well.

One of my long-standing pet peeves is that you will note neither includes a statistic on lay ecclesial ministers, though a few years ago Archbishop Brunett commissioned a study in the archdiocese that indicated over 800, which does not include Catholic school teachers. Five years after the publication of the USCCB’s guideline document Co-Workers in the Vineyard, and more than fifty years after the first modern lay ecclesial ministers began service in the U.S., it is hard to believe that we are so well hidden that we cannot be counted!



  1. Gregor says:

    I guess the 32 “externs” (whatever that is) aren’t included in the total–that gives you 290.

    Should we be concerned that Rome doesn’t have any idea how many Catholics there are here?

    • A.J. Boyd says:

      Externs are priests of other dioceses “on loan” to us to aid in the “shortage”. Most are from Africa, southeast Asia, and eastern Europe. They probably are counted in their home diocese as “absent” or active outside the diocese, as some of ours are. As for how many Catholics, its a pretty general number anyway – each parish has its own registration, there is no central archdiocesan registry except when it comes to the annual appeal, and as you know so many Catholics do not bother to register in a parish at all. So who knows, the number of people who consider themselves Catholic could be closer to the VIS number than the archdiocesan!

  2. Edward.Fullerton says:

    I wish your ,Clergy,Religious,deacons&laity,every success in the context of “Universal Church” ,needless to say my prayers.

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