Raymond Hunthausen bigraphy, stories - Catholic bishop

Raymond Hunthausen : biography

August 21, 1921 -

Raymond Gerhardt Hunthausen (born August 21, 1921) is a retired American prelate of the Catholic Church. He served as Bishop of Helena from 1962 to 1975 and as Archbishop of Seattle from 1975 to 1991.

Episcopal succession

Early life and education

The oldest of seven children, Raymond Hunthausen was born in Anaconda, Montana, to Anthony Gerhardt and Edna Marie (née Tuchscherer) Hunthausen. His parents owned and operated a local grocery store. He received his early education from the Ursuline nuns at the parochial school of , and excelled academically and athletically during high school.

He attended Carroll College in Helena, majoring in chemistry and graduating cum laude in 1943. He considered pursuing a career as a chemical engineer or as a fighter pilot for the United States Air Force. However, he was persuaded by Father Bernard Topel, his spiritual director and mathematics professor at Carroll who later became Bishop of Spokane, to enter the priesthood. He began his studies at St. Edward Seminary in Kenmore, Washington, in the fall of 1943.


1982 Thomas Merton Award by the Thomas Merton Center for Peace and Justice

1992 Isaac Hecker Award for Social Justice - by the Paulist Center


You held the position of archbishop of the Seattle diocese for 16 years. In that time, you had a huge impact on area Catholics as well as on the church as a whole. What do you think is the greatest legacy of your tenure? "You'd almost have to ask that question to somebody else. If I have to respond, I have to say that I brought to the church, as I understood it, what the Second Vatican Council was inviting us to become."


Hunthausen was ordained a priest by Bishop Joseph Gilmore on June 1, 1946. He returned to Carroll College, where he served as a professor of chemistry (1946–57) and a football and basketball coach (1953–57). In 1953, he earned a Master's degree in science from the University of Notre Dame. He served as president of Carroll College from 1957 to 1962. He was named a domestic prelate in 1958.


Nuclear weapons

In 1982, Hunthausen withheld half of his income tax to protest the stockpiling of nuclear weapons and the Trident missile program which had a base nearby, in Puget Sound. In a speech, he said, “Trident is the Auschwitz of Puget Sound.”Amundson, Mavis “Local professor notes Hunthausen’s influence” West Seattle Herald 11 January 1984 This tax resistance prompted the Internal Revenue Service to garnish his wages. This angered members of the U.S. military and the Reagan administration, as well as politically conservative Catholics.

Episcopal career

On July 8, 1962, Hunthausen was appointed the sixth Bishop of Helena by Pope John XXIII. He received his episcopal consecration on the following August 30 from Archbishop Egidio Vagnozzi, with Bishops Bernard Topel and William Condon serving as co-consecrators. As bishop of Helena, he was a council father at all four sessions of the Second Vatican Council. He was the newest and youngest American bishop at the start of the Council.

His tenure as bishop of Helena was marked by increased lay involvement in church matters, the establishment of a mission in Guatemala, the closure of several Catholic elementary and high schools, and the strengthening of religious education programs which function in every diocesan parish.

He was appointed Archbishop of Seattle, Washington by Pope Paul VI and retired effective August 21, 1991 (his 70th birthday), after years of controversies that included an investigation coordinated by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, who later became Pope Benedict XVI. In a letter to Archbishop Hunthausen, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger wrote that "The Archdiocese should withdraw all support from any group which does not unequivocally accept the teaching of the Magisterium concerning the intrinsic evil of homosexual activity. This teaching has been set forth in this Congregation's Declaration on Sexual Ethics and more recently in the document, Educational Guidance in Human Love, issued by the Congregation for Catholic Education in 1983."

Living octopus

Living octopus

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