Alfred Clifton Hughes

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Alfred Clifton Hughes
Archbishop Emeritus of New Orleans
FEMA - 16583 - Photograph by Greg Henshall taken on 10-02-2005 in Louisiana.jpg
Archbishop Hughes greets parishioners in front of St. Louis Cathedral after the first services in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina more than a month earlier.
ArchdioceseNew Orleans
AppointedFebruary 16, 2001
InstalledJanuary 3, 2002
Term endedJune 12, 2009
PredecessorFrancis Bible Schulte
SuccessorGregory Michael Aymond
OrdinationDecember 15, 1957
ConsecrationSeptember 14, 1981
by Humberto Sousa Medeiros, Thomas Vose Daily, and John Michael D'Arcy
Personal details
Born (1932-12-02) December 2, 1932 (age 86)
West Roxbury, Massachusetts
Previous postAuxiliary Bishop of Boston (1981–1993)
Titular Bishop of Maximiana in Byzacena (1981–1993)
Bishop of Baton Rouge (1993–2002)
Alma materSt. John's Seminary College
MottoFor you, God’s own love
Styles of
Alfred Clifton Hughes
Coat of arms of Alfred Clifton Hughes.svg
Reference style
Spoken styleYour Excellency
Religious styleArchbishop
Ordination history of
Alfred Clifton Hughes
Episcopal consecration
Consecrated byHumberto Sousa Medeiros
DateSeptember 4, 1981
Episcopal succession
Bishops consecrated by Alfred Clifton Hughes as principal consecrator
Roger MorinFebruary 11, 2003
Ronald Paul HerzogNovember 4, 2004
Shelton Joseph FabreDecember 13, 2006
Glen John ProvostApril 23, 2007
Michael DucaMay 19, 2008

Alfred Clifton Hughes KCHS (born December 2, 1932) is a retired American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as the 13th Archbishop of New Orleans, having previously served as Bishop of Baton Rouge from 1993 to 2002. On June 12, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Bishop Gregory M. Aymond as the new Archbishop of New Orleans to replace Archbishop Hughes.

Youth and education[edit]

Alfred Hughes was born in West Roxbury, Massachusetts, as the third of the four children of Alfred and Ellen (née Hennessey) Hughes; he has two older sisters, Dorothy Callahan and Marie Morgan, and a younger brother, a Jesuit priest named Kenneth. Hughes studied at St. John's Seminary College, from where he received his bachelor's degree in philosophy in 1954, and then furthered his studies in Rome at the Pontifical Gregorian University until 1958.

He was ordained to the priesthood in Rome on December 15, 1957, and then did pastoral work before returning to the Gregorian to obtain a doctorate in spiritual theology from 1959 to 1961. Upon his return to the United States, he became a professor, as well as spiritual director and lecturer, at his alma mater of St. John's Seminary in 1962.

Church roles in Massachusetts[edit]

On July 21, 1981, Hughes was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Boston and Titular Bishop of Maximiana in Byzacena by Pope John Paul II. He received his episcopal consecration on the following September 14 from Humberto Cardinal Medeiros, with Bishops Thomas Daily and John D'Arcy serving as co-consecrators. Hughes served as Rector of St. John's Seminary from 1981 to 1986, and as vicar general and vicar of administration from 1990 until 1993.

Bishop of Baton Rouge[edit]

He was then named Bishop of Baton Rouge on September 7, 1993, and was installed on November 7 of that same year. On February 16, 2001, Hughes was made Coadjutor Archbishop of New Orleans, serving under Archbishop Francis Schulte. He visited ninety of the archdiocese’s 142 parishes when he arrived there to become more familiar with the people.

Archbishop Alfred Hughes (far right) with (right to left) New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, President George W. Bush, and Louisiana Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu.

Archbishop of New Orleans[edit]

Hughes succeeded Schulte as Archbishop of New Orleans upon the latter’s retirement on January 3, 2002. His tenure has been marked by the devastating Hurricane Katrina in 2005, after which he made a televised appearance with Bishop Robert Muench (his successor in Baton Rouge), saying, “God has brought us to our knees in the face of disaster. We are so overwhelmed, we do not really know how to respond. Powerlessness leads us to prayer. And we know when we turn to God, God offers us his grace”.[1] In response to questioning religion during the hurricane’s aftermath, Hughes also said, “People can either turn inward on themselves and lose hope, or they turn upward to God and outward to other people. Our faith teaches us to do the latter, to really believe that God is present and is asking us to be partners with him in the recovery and restoration”.[2]

  • Hughes implemented a controversial post-Katrina church consolidation program that reduced the diocese from 142 parishes to 108. The storm drove away nearly a quarter of its former membership and left it with nearly $300 million in physical damage.[3]
  • Questions have also been raised by Hughes's handling of sexual abuse cases by the clergy, in both Boston and New Orleans. For this, he has apologized and said, “Our action or inaction failed to protect the innocents among us, the children. I ask for forgiveness"[4]
  • The Archbishop has placed an emphasis on evangelization as a major theme of his tenure. He also sits on numerous committees of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, including that which oversees the use of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
  • On April 2, 2009, Hughes "joined a growing chorus of Catholic bishops deploring the University of Notre Dame's decision to award President Barack Obama an honorary doctorate at graduation exercises" in May 2009.[5] The reasons concern Obama's support for abortion rights and other issues viewed as incompatible with the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, with which the University of Notre Dame is affiliated.[6]
  • A front-page article in the Times-Picayune on 2009 April 17 pictured Hughes and described his support, representing the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops, in support of Senate Bill 115, authored by Danny Martiny, in the Louisiana State Senate. SB 115 would ban mixing of "human and animal cells in a Petri dish" and was thought to be the first bill of its kind, a "pre-emptive strike" against attempts to create hybrid human-ape creatures.[7]
  • A week later, another front-page article in the Times-Picayune described Hughes' refusal to attend commencement exercises at Xavier University of Louisiana because the ceremony included awarding of an honorary degree to Donna Brazile, a supporter of abortion rights.[8]

Succession by Gregory Michael Aymond[edit]

On 2009 June 12 Hughes was, by designation of Pope Benedict XVI, succeeded by Gregory Michael Aymond, the Bishop of Austin, Texas. Hughes continued to serve as apostolic administrator until 2009 August 20, the date of Aymond's installation mass in New Orleans' Saint Louis Cathedral.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Catholic News Service. Louisianans face long recovery from Katrina, New Orleans flooding Archived 2005-09-08 at the Library of Congress Web Archives August 31, 2005
  2. ^ USA Today. A Katrina survivor stands fast in her faith 2006
  3. ^ New Orleans Times-Picayune: "New archbishop vows to 'reconcile' with those hurt by parish closures, but says he won't 'second guess' Hughes" June 12, 2009
  4. ^ Catholic Bishops and Sex Abuse. ARCHBISHOP ALFRED HUGHES.
  5. ^ Bruce Nolan, "Hughes raps college over Obama honor" in Times-Picayune (New Orleans), 2009 April 3, Saint Tammany Edition, pp. A1, A4 (web version = N.O. Archbishop criticizes Notre Dame for inviting Obama to speak at commencement). The announcement was met by a letter to the editor of the Times-Picayune insinuating that Hughes should instead have complained to the Pope about the short-lived appointment of Gerhard Maria Wagner to be auxiliary bishop of Linz, Austria. H. Bruce Shreves, Archbishop's outrage needed closer to home, Archived 2011-06-04 at the Wayback Machine Times-Picayune, 2009 April 10, Saint Tammany Edition, p. B6.
  6. ^ See also the articles on John Michael D'Arcy, Thomas J. Olmsted, John I. Jenkins, Daniel DiNardo, Timothy Dolan, and American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property.
  7. ^ Ed Anderson, Proposal outlaws mixing people, animals: DNA research ban likely unique in U.S., Times-Picayune, 2009 April 17, Saint Tammany Edition, pp. A1-A2.
  8. ^ Bruce Nolan & John Pope, Hughes snubs Xavier graduation ceremony, Archived 2009-09-09 at the Wayback Machine Times-Picayune, 2009 April 24, pp. A1, A11. Hughes' decision to absent the ceremony was criticized by Herman J. Galatas Sr. in a letter to the editor titled "Archbishop's Xavier graduation boycott illogical"[permanent dead link] in the Times-Picayune, 2009 April 26, Metro Edition, p. B4. Hughes was defended by John Richard & Pam Richard in a letter to the editor titled "Abortion mars civil society" in Times-Picayune, 2009 May 04, Saint Tammany Edition, p. B4.
  9. ^ Bruce Nolan & Ramon Antonio Vargas, "N.O. Native Named New Archbishop"[permanent dead link] in Times-Picayune, 2009 June 13, Saint Tammany Edition, pp. A1, A8-A9.

External links[edit]

Episcopal succession[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Francis B. Schulte
Croix de l Ordre du Saint-Sepulcre.svg Grand Prior Southeastern Lieutenancy of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre
Succeeded by
Gregory Aymond
Preceded by
Francis B. Schulte
Archbishop of New Orleans
Succeeded by
Gregory Aymond
Preceded by
Stanley Joseph Ott
Bishop of Baton Rouge
Succeeded by
Robert William Muench
Preceded by
Auxiliary Bishop of Boston
Succeeded by