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Lawrence Shehan

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His Eminence 
Lawrence Joseph Shehan
Cardinal Archbishop Emeritus of Baltimore
See Baltimore (emeritus)
Enthroned December 8, 1961
Reign ended April 2, 1974
Predecessor Francis Keough
Successor William Donald Borders
Ordination December 23, 1922
Consecration December 12, 1945
Created Cardinal February 22, 1965
Other Bishop of Bridgeport (1953-61)
Personal details
Born March 18, 1898(1898-03-18)
Baltimore, Maryland
Died August 26, 1984 (aged 86)
Baltimore, Maryland
Styles of
Lawrence Shehan
CardinalCoA PioM
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal
See Baltimore (Emeritus)

Lawrence Joseph Shehan (March 18, 1898—August 26, 1984) was an American Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Archbishop of Baltimore from 1961 to 1974, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1965.

Early life and priesthood

Lawrence Joseph Shehan was born in Baltimore, Maryland to Thomas Patrick Shehan and his wife Anastasia Dames Schofield. He studied at St. Charles College in Ellicott City and St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore before traveling to Rome, where he attended the Pontifical Urbaniana University. Ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Giuseppe Palica on December 23, 1922, Shehan then did pastoral work in Maryland and Washington, D.C. until 1947. In Washington, he was also the assistant director (1929-1936) and then director (1936-1945) of Catholic Charities. Shehan was raised to the rank of Monsignor on May 17, 1939.


On November 17, 1945, he was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Baltimore-Washington and Titular bishop of Lydda. Shehan received his episcopal consecration on the following December 12 from Archbishop Amleto Giovanni Cicognani, with Bishops Peter Ireton and John McNamara serving as co-consecrators. He became Auxiliary Bishop of Baltimore when, on March 15, 1947, it was separated from the Archdiocese of Washington. Shehan was named Vicar General of Baltimore on February 25, 1948, and later the first Bishop of Bridgeport on August 25, 1953. On July 10, 1961, he returned to Baltimore as its Coadjutor Archbishop and Titular Archbishop of Nicopolis ad Nestum.

Shehan succeeded Francis Patrick Keough as Archbishop of Baltimore on December 8 of that same year. In this position, he led the nation's diocese and held an honorary primacy over the Church in America. After the Supreme Court ruled to remove prayer from public schools in 1962, Shehan warned that "secularization threatens to become a sort of state religion established by court decree"[1]. He was also a strong advocate of civil rights, banning segregation in all of Baltimore's Catholic institutions and walking in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963[2]. He also maintained relations with Judaism and Eastern Orthodoxy[3].

Vatican II and Cardinal

Shehan attended the Second Vatican Council from 1962 to 1965, and Pope Paul VI rather surprisingly[4] created him Cardinal Priest of S. Clemente in the consistory of February 22, 1965. Along with Cardinal Jaime de Barros Câmara, he assisted Cardinal Leo Joseph Suenens in delivering one of the closing messages of the Council on December 8, 1965[5]. Within the Roman Curia, Shehan held membership in the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity[2].

He was in conflict with Fr. Gommar DePauw, a Baltimore priest and founder of the Traditionalist Catholic Movement[6].

Considered a liberal in his positions, Shehan supported Fr. Charles Curran[7] and open housing, and condemned the Vietnam War[8].

He celebrated an aboriginal Mass at the 1973 Eucharistic Congress in Melbourne[9].

He resigned as Baltimore's archbishop on April 2, 1974, after twelve years of service. In a stroke of cruel luck, he was never able to participate in a papal conclave—he was the last cardinal to turn eighty prior to the August 1978 conclave, at which, by Pope Paul's decree, cardinals over eighty were excluded.

Shehan died in Baltimore at age 86, and is buried in the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen.


  1. TIME Magazine. On Second Thought... August 24, 1962
  2. 2.0 2.1 TIME Magazine. Milestones September 10, 1984
  3. Ibid.
  4. TIME Magazine. 27 More Cardinals February 5, 1965
  5. Christus Rex. To Artists
  6. TIME Magazine. De Pauw's Departure January 28, 1966
  7. TIME Magazine. Time for Boy Scouts? April 28, 1967
  8. TIME Magazine. A Fighter Bows Out April 15, 1974
  9. TIME Magazine. "Spiritual Olympics" in Melbourne March 12, 1973

External links

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Bishop of Bridgeport
Succeeded by
Walter William Curtis
Preceded by
Francis Patrick Keough
Archbishop of Baltimore
Succeeded by
William Donald Borders

Template:ArchbishopsofBaltimoreno:Lawrence Joseph Shehan

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