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Elden Francis Curtiss

Elden Francis Curtiss
Archbishop Emeritus of Omaha
Archbishop Curtiss in 2013
AppointedMay 4, 1993
InstalledJune 25, 1993
RetiredJune 3, 2009
PredecessorDaniel E. Sheehan
SuccessorGeorge Joseph Lucas
OrdinationMay 24, 1958
by Francis Peter Leipzig
ConsecrationApril 28, 1976
by Cornelius Michael Power, Thomas Joseph Connolly, and Francis Peter Leipzig
Personal details
Born (1932-06-16) June 16, 1932 (age 92)
DenominationRoman Catholic
Previous post(s)
EducationFordham University
University of Portland
University of Notre Dame
MottoThat we may all be one
Styles of
Elden Francis Curtiss
Reference style
Spoken styleYour Excellency
Religious styleArchbishop

Elden Francis Curtiss (born June 16, 1932) is an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as bishop of the Diocese of Helena in Montana from 1976 to 1993, and as archbishop of the Archdiocese of Omaha in Nebraska from 1993 to 2009.


Early life

Elden Curtiss was born on June 16, 1932, in Baker City, Oregon, the eldest of four sons of Elden and Mary (née Neiger) Curtiss. He studied at St. Edward Seminary in Kenmore, Washington.[1][2]

Curtiss was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Baker by Bishop Francis P. Leipzig on May 24, 1958. After his ordination, Curtiss assigned to parishes in Lakeview, La Grande, and Jordan Valley, Oregon, and served as a hospital chaplain.[1]

Curtiss furthered his studies at Fordham University in New York City, at the University of Portland in Portland, Oregon, and at the University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Indiana, acquiring a Master of Divinity degree and a master of arts degree in education administration. Curtiss served as director of information and as superintendent of schools in the Diocese of Baker. In 1970, he joined the faculty of Mount Angel Seminary in Saint Benedict, Oregon; in 1972, he was appointed president-rector of the seminary.[1]

Bishop of Helena

On March 4, 1976, Curtiss was appointed as the seventh bishop of the Diocese of Helena by Pope Paul VI.[3] He was consecrated on April 28, 1976, by Archbishop Cornelius Power. Curtiss selected as his episcopal motto: "That We May All Be One" (John 17:21).[2]

Archbishop of Omaha

Curtiss was named the fourth archbishop of the Archdiocese of Omaha by Pope John Paul II on May 4, 1993. Succeeding the retiring Archbishop Daniel Sheehan, Curtiss was installed on June 25, 1993.[2]

Curtiss led a capital campaign that funded a retirement home for priests and repairs to St. Cecilia Cathedral. He was also able to subsidize tuition at Catholic high schools and increase the endowment for seminarians.[4]

For the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Curtiss served as episcopal advisor to Serra International and as member of the Committee on Marriage and Family Life and the Ad Hoc Committee for the implementation of the National Strategy for Vocations. He was also a board member for the Catholic Church Extension Society and Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in Shrewsbury, Missouri.[4]

During his tenure as the Bishop of Helena, Curtiss chose to reassign a priest who had been accused of pedophilia in 1959, later admitting that he had not properly examined the church's personnel file on the individual concerned. Curtiss faced similar criticism in 2001 in regard to a priest accused of accessing child pornography. Curtiss, it was alleged, had failed to bring the case to the attention of the authorities, and had chosen to send the priest for counseling and to reassign the priest, removing him from his high-school teaching position but re-assigning him to a middle school.[5]

Retirement and legacy

Upon reaching his 75th birthday in 2007, Curtiss submitted his resignation, as required by church law. In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI accepted his resignation and named Bishop George J. Lucas as his successor.[1]

In 2009, Curtiss stated that the bishops had "learned the hard way", but that the church was better now that it had gone through the process of responding to the sexual abuse issues.[6][1]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e Bunting, Robert. "Elden Francis Curtiss (1932–)". The Oregon Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2015-01-04.
  2. ^ a b c "Archbishop Elden Francis Curtiss [Catholic-Hierarchy]". Retrieved 2023-11-11.
  3. ^ "1976-1993 Bishop Curtiss". Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena. Retrieved 2015-01-04.
  4. ^ a b "Leadership". Archdiocese of Omaha. Retrieved 2023-11-11.
  5. ^ Egerton, Brooks; Dunklin, Reese (June 12, 2002). "Bishops' record in cases of accused priests". Dallas Morning News.
  6. ^ Burbach, Christopher. "Archbishop talks frankly about pain and joy of his 16-year tenure". Omaha World-Herald. Archived from the original on 2009-02-28. Retrieved 2010-10-13.

Episcopal succession

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Elden Francis Curtiss
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