Blame it on the Boss in Roma

Bully pulpit takes on a new meaning

Thank you, Archbishop John R. Quinn


John R. Quinn Obituary
Archbishop John R. Quinn

John Quinn was born in Riverside, California on March 28, 1929, one of four children born to Elizabeth Constance [Carroll] and Ralph Joseph Quinn. After completing high school, John entered the seminary for the Diocese of San Diego, from which he was sent to Rome to complete his studies, and received his degree from the Pontifical Gregorian University. Fr. Quinn was ordained to the priesthood in Rome for San Diego on July 19, 1953. He was initially assigned to serve at St. Francis de Sales Church in Riverside.

In the years that followed, he taught systematic theology at Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary in San Diego, and served as President of St. Francis College Seminary in San Diego. In 1964, he was appointed Provost of the University of San Diego College for Men. He soon organized the merger between the men’s and women’s colleges, leading to the creation of the University of San Diego.

On October 21, 1967, at the age of 38, Fr. Quinn was appointed auxiliary bishop of San Diego. His episcopal ordination followed on December 12, 1967. On November 30, 1971 Bishop Quinn was appointed as the fifth bishop of the Diocese of Oklahoma City and Tulsa. On December 13, 1972, that diocese was split, and the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City was created. Early in 1973, he became Archbishop of Oklahoma City, and in 1974, was asked by Pope Paul VI to participate in the 1974 World Synod of Bishops.

Archbishop Quinn returned to his roots in California with his installation as the sixth Archbishop of San Francisco on April 26, 1977, succeeding Archbishop Joseph T. McGucken. Within the year he was elected by his brother bishops to a three-year term as President of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. On January 27, 1981, Archbishop Quinn oversaw the creation of the Diocese of San Jose. Over the decades that followed, the Archbishop participated in two additional synods in Rome. He served for five years as a consultant to the Congregation for the Clergy, and in 1983, he was appointed by Pope John Paul II as Pontifical Delegate for Religious Life in the United States. As Pontifical Delegate, he was charged with bringing U.S. bishops together with men and women religious, and charged with examining the causes for the decline in vocations. In San Francisco, he focused on social justice among many other responsibilities, quietly working with Catholic Charities to address the challenges faced by the underprivileged and underserved. Together with Catholic Charities, he reached out early with support for those with HIV and AIDS.

After serving the faithful of the Archdiocese of San Francisco for 18 years, Archbishop Quinn retired on December 27, 1995. He took up an appointment as visiting fellow at Campion Hall at Oxford University, and in 1996, he delivered the Campion Hall Centennial Lecture. His lecture was written in response to Pope John Paul II’s 1995 encyclical on ecumenism, “Ut Unum Sint” [“That They May Be One”], which was also the subject of his first book, “The Reform of the Papacy: The Costly Call to Christian Unity,” published in 1999, which won a Catholic Press Award. In 2000 and 2001, the Archbishop was a member of the faculty of the University of San Diego, where he held the John R. Portman Chair of Roman Catholic Theology. He later taught at Santa Clara University and at the University of San Francisco, and was a member of the Catholic Theological Society of America.Gala2010ChapelAngelA

The Archbishop remained an intellectual giant in the wider Catholic Church, writing on many subjects including the role and authority of bishops’ conferences, the appointment and transfer of bishops, the establishment of dioceses, questions of liturgy, and matters of Catholic practice and observance – always within the framework of Catholic communion and unity.

His second book, “Ever Ancient, Ever New: New Structure of the Communion in the Church” was published in 2012. His final book “Revered and Reviled: A Re-Examination of Vatican Council I” was completed last fall and will be published in September. Archbishop Quinn contributed to many publications, including the Jesuit magazine “America,” to which he began contributing in 1968.

He gave a powerful address to the National Federation of Priests’ Council, published by the magazine on May 3, 2010. In his later years, Archbishop Quinn had become internationally known for his scholarly writing and the retreats he gave to bishops, priests and lay persons.

Last November he fell ill in Rome. After two months in hospital in Rome, he returned to San Francisco as a patient at St Mary’s Medical Center for additional intensive care treatment, and just before he died he moved to the Jewish Home of San Francisco for further rehabilitation and specialized care.


Funeral arrangements have been planned at St. Mary’s Cathedral, which Archbishop Quinn called, “…a window on the infinite, lifting the human spirit to the Infinite and Eternal Beauty which is God”



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