Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg covers 15 counties of South Central Pennsylvania: Adams, Columbia, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon, Mifflin, Montour, Northumberland, Perry, Snyder, Union and York. The seat of the bishop is in St. Patrick's Cathedral (built 1907), which stands one block away from the Pennsylvania State Capitol. Pope Blessed Pius IX erected the diocese on March 3, 1868.[1] The diocese's mission statement is "To proclaim the goodness of God and to make truly present and active the one, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ to all people through the power of the Holy Spirit."[1]

Diocese of Harrisburg

Diœcesis Harrisburgensis
Cathedral of St. Patrick
Coat of arms
Country United States
TerritoryCounties of Adams, Columbia, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon, Mifflin, Montour, Northumberland, Perry, Snyder, Union and York, Pennsylvania
Ecclesiastical provinceArchdiocese of Philadelphia
Area7,660 sq mi (19,800 km2)
- Total
- Catholics
(as of 2006)
247,492 (12.2%)
DenominationRoman Catholic
RiteRoman Rite
EstablishedMarch 3, 1868
CathedralSt. Patrick's Cathedral
Patron saintSaint Patrick
Secular priests150
Current leadership
BishopRonald William Gainer
Metropolitan ArchbishopCharles Joseph Chaput
Archbishop of Philadelphia


The following are lists of bishops, coadjutor and auxiliary bishops, and priests who served the diocese and their years of service.

Bishops of Harrisburg

  1. Jeremiah F. Shanahan (1868-1886)
  2. Thomas McGovern (1888-1898)
  3. John W. Shanahan (1899-1916)
  4. Philip R. McDevitt (1916-1935)
  5. George L. Leech (1935-1971)
  6. Joseph T. Daley (1971-1983)
  7. William Henry Keeler (1983-1989), appointed Archbishop of Baltimore (created Cardinal in 1994)
  8. Nicholas C. Dattilo (1990-2004)
  9. Kevin C. Rhoades (2004-2010), appointed Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend
  10. Joseph P. McFadden (2010-2013)
  11. Ronald William Gainer (2014-present)

Coadjutor Bishops

  • Joseph T. Daley (1967-1971)
  • William H. Keeler (1979-1983)

Auxiliary Bishops

Other priests of the diocese who became bishops

High schools

Ban on participation of females in certain sports

On October 1, 2014, Bishop Ronald Gainer introduced a new policy prohibiting girls at Catholic schools in the diocese from participating in wrestling, football, and rugby whether or not they desire to compete in girls-only or co-ed matches.[2] The policy goes on to require male wrestlers to forfeit matches against female opponents, but does not bar football or rugby teams from playing against teams which may have a girl on their team.[2] According to the policy, the ban applies to sports "... that involve substantial and potentially immodest physical contact."[2]

Special churches

The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Conewago Township and the Basilica of Saints Cyril and Methodius in Danville are under the purview of the diocese.

Grand jury investigation of clergy sex abuse, and diocese's response

In early 2016, a grand jury investigation, led by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, began an inquiry into sexual abuse by Catholic clergy in six Pennsylvania dioceses: Harrisburg, Allentown, Scranton, Pittsburgh, Greensburg, and Erie.[3] The Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia were not included, as they had been the subjects of earlier investigations.[3]

According to officials in the Diocese of Harrisburg, the diocese had intended to release a list of accused priests in September 2016, but were ordered by the Attorney General Shapiro not to do so, lest it compromise his investigation.[4][5]

According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, in 2017 the Diocese of Harrisburg and the Diocese of Greensburg attempted to shut down the grand jury investigation.[6][7]

On July 27, 2018, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered that a redacted copy of the grand jury report be released to the public; this release is anticipated to occur in early August 2018.[8][7]

On August 1, 2018, the Diocese of Harrisburg released the names of 71 clergy members accused of in engaging in sexual abuse of children.[9][10][11][12] The list included priests, deacons, and seminarians of the diocese, as well as clergy from other dioceses or from religious orders who had served in the Diocese of Harrisburg.[11][9]

Following the disclosure, Bishop Gainer announced the name of every man who had served as a bishop in the Diocese of Harrisburg since 1947 would be removed from any building or room named in their honor, due to their failure to protect victims from abuse.[12] The grand jury report was released on August 14, 2018 and revealed that the Diocese of Harrisburg had secretly been settling cases with survivors of sex abuse in the Diocese since 2002.[13] Some of the agreements in the settlements also included confidentiality provisions.[13] Gainer afterwards apologized on behalf of the Diocese and set up a new website titled, which contains information on how to report sex abuse, contact information for the Victim Assistance Office, and how the Diocese confronted the issue of sex abuse.[13] A total of 301 priests were accused of sexually abusing children, with 45 coming from the Diocese of Harrisburg.[14]

The grand jury report also accused former Bishop and future Baltimore Cardinal William Keeler of committing criminal inaction during his time as Bishop of Harrisburg.[15] It was announced on August 15, 2018 that a Baltimore pre K-8 Catholic school that would open in 2020 and be named for former Harrisburg Bishop William Keeler would no longer bear his name after the report explained how he allowed abusive Harrisburg priest Arthur Long to transfer to the Archdiocese of Baltimore after he (Keeler) was appointed to that see.[16][15][17] Keeler had been notified of accusations of sexual abuse against Long in 1987.[18]

See also


  1. "About Our Diocese". Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg. Retrieved November 22, 2010.
  2. Gainer, Ronald (October 1, 2014). "Co-Ed Participation in Contact Sports". Catholic Schools / Co-Ed Participation in Contact Sports. Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Retrieved October 4, 2014. Catholic schools, parishes, CYOs or clubs would not permit a female on a wrestling team...Catholic schools, parishes, CYOs and clubs would not permit a female on a tackle football team...Catholic schools, parishes, CYOs and clubs would not permit a female on a tackle rugby team.
  3. Couloumbis, Angela (June 17, 2018). "Pa. report to document child sexual abuse, cover-ups in six Catholic dioceses". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved August 2, 2018.
  4. DeJesus, Ivey (April 6, 2018). "Catholic bishop explains why he released names of predatory priests; confident none remain in ministry". Retrieved August 4, 2018.
  5. Catholic News Service (August 4, 2018). "Greensburg Diocese stands ready help to abuse survivors 'in their healing'". Crux. Retrieved August 4, 2018.
  6. Smith, Peter; Navratil, Liz; Couloumbis, Angela (June 29, 2018). "Two Pa. dioceses tried to block grand jury probe into clergy sex abuse, documents show". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved August 1, 2018.
  7. Navratil, Liz; Smith, Peter (August 1, 2018). "Harrisburg Diocese releases names of accused priests, removes bishops' names from buildings". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved August 1, 2018.
  8. Couloumbis, Angela; Navratil, Liz (July 27, 2018). "Pa. Supreme Court: Release redacted report that names more than 300 'predator priests'". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved August 1, 2018.
  9. Schweigert, Keith (August 1, 2018). "READ: Diocese of Harrisburg's list of clergy and seminarians accused of sexual abuse of minors". WPMT. Retrieved March 31, 2019.
  10. Esack, Steve (August 1, 2018). "Harrisburg Diocese releases names of priests accused of child sex abuse". The Morning Call. Retrieved August 1, 2018.
  11. Kessler, Brandie; Mahon, Ed (August 1, 2018). "Harrisburg Catholic diocese names 71 priests, clergy accused of sexual abuse". York Daily Record. Retrieved August 1, 2018.
  12. Zauzmer, Julie (August 1, 2018). "Pennsylvania diocese will remove every bishop's name since 1947 from buildings because they failed to root out child sexual abuse". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 1, 2018.
  13. Smith, Paul (August 14, 2018). "Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg issues statement on release of Grand Jury Report". WPMT. Retrieved March 31, 2019.
  15. Amara, Kate (August 15, 2018). "New Catholic school in Baltimore will no longer be named for Keeler". WBAL-TV. Retrieved March 31, 2019.
  16. Associated Press (August 15, 2018). "Baltimore Catholic school to drop name of cardinal accused of inaction while bishop of Harrisburg". The Sentinel. Retrieved March 31, 2019.
  17. "Catholic school to drop name of cardinal accused of inaction". Associated Press. August 15, 2018. Retrieved March 31, 2019.
  18. Wood, Pamela (August 14, 2018). "Keeler accused of bringing abusive priest to Baltimore archdiocese". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved March 31, 2019.

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