Gregory Michael Aymond

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The Most Reverend
Gregory Michael Aymond
Archbishop of New Orleans
File:DSB FQF13 Fri Jackson Sq WWL Opening ceremony Archbishop.jpg
Archbishop Aymond in 2013
Province New Orleans
See New Orleans
Installed August 20, 2009
Predecessor Alfred Clifton Hughes
Successor incumbent
Other posts Bishop of Austin (2001–2009)
Coadjutor Bishop of Austin (2000–2001)
Auxiliary Bishop of New Orleans (1997–2000)
Ordination May 10, 1975
Consecration January 10, 1997
Personal details
Born (1949-11-12) November 12, 1949 (age 71)
New Orleans, Louisiana
Denomination Roman Catholic Church
Coat of arms Gregory Michael Aymond's coat of arms
Styles of
Gregory Aymond
Reference style The Most Reverend
Spoken style Your Excellency[1]
Religious style Archbishop

Gregory Michael Aymond (born November 12, 1949) is an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He became the fourteenth Archbishop of New Orleans on June 12, 2009. He had previously served as Bishop of Austin from 2001 to 2009, as Coadjutor Bishop of Austin from 2000 to 2001, and as Auxiliary Bishop of New Orleans from 1997 to 2000.

Early life and education

The oldest of three children,[2] Gregory Aymond was born in the Gentilly neighborhood of New Orleans, Louisiana.[3] He attended St. James Major Elementary School, and evacuated New Orleans with his family by skiff after Hurricane Betsy in 1965.[2] After graduating from Cor Jesu High School in 1967, he studied at St. Joseph Seminary College near Covington until 1971.[3] He then attended Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, from where he obtained his Master of Divinity degree in 1975.[4] He then furthered his studies at the Institute for Ministry at Loyola University.[4]


Aymond was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Philip Hannan on May 10, 1975.[5] He then served as a professor and later rector at St. John Vianney Preparatory Seminary in New Orleans until 1981, when he became director of education and professor of pastoral theology and homiletics at his alma mater Notre Dame Seminary.[3] From 1986 to 2000, he served as president-rector of Notre Dame; his tenure was the longest in the seminary's history.[3]

During his priestly ministry, he also served as executive director of the Department of Christian Formation, with responsibility for Catholic schools and religious education.[3] He was director of Society for the Propagation of the Faith and was a member of its national board (1977–2000).[4] During the 1980s, Aymond and groups of seminarians from Notre Dame began to visit Mexico, where they built houses and offered religious training.[3] In 1994 he founded Christ the Healer, a medical mission program of the New Orleans Archdiocese in Granada, Nicaragua.[4]

Auxiliary Bishop of New Orleans

On November 19, 1996, Aymond was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of New Orleans and Titular Bishop of Acholla by Pope John Paul II.[5] He received his episcopal consecration on January 10, 1997 from Archbishop Francis Bible Schulte, with Archbishops Philip Hannan and John Favalora serving as co-consecrators.[5]

Brian Matherne sex abuse case

As an Auxiliary Bishop of New Orleans, one of Aymond's duties included the oversight of Catholic schools in the archdiocese.[6] In 1998, then-Auxiliary Bishop Aymond allowed Brian Matherne, a coach at Sacred Heart of Jesus School in Norco, to remain in his post for several months after receiving information from the victim's father that Matherne had molested his son some 13 years earlier. He dropped the matter without alerting police after unsuccessful attempts to speak to the alleged victim. The youth (then 24) later told the St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Office about the matter. Matherne was arrested and later pleaded guilty to molesting 17 youths over a period of 15 years and is serving 30 years in the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. Aymond in part defended the church's handling of the case, saying it had followed the law[7] but also admitted his mistake in not immediately firing Matherene.[8] In Austin three years later, Bishop Aymond began tightening the Diocese's sex abuse policy, based partly on the Matherne case stating: "That painful experience -- I will never forget it. It helped me to understand the complexity of pedophilia better."[7]

Bishop of Austin

Aymond was named Coadjutor Bishop of Austin, Texas, on June 2, 2000 by Pope John Paul II, being installed as Coadjutor Bishop on the following August 3. He later succeeded John E. McCarthy as the fourth Bishop of Austin on January 2, 2001. The Diocese of Austin grew rapidly (partly as a result of immigration) during Aymond's bishopric and actually had more churchgoers than many archdioceses, including New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.[9]

In Austin, Aymond resisted a request by victims of sexual abuse to release the names of priests credibly accused in the past and as president of a national bishops' Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People in 2006, he opposed creating a searchable, Internet-based registry of abusers. He stated: "There is very little chance such a list would be comprehensive or accurate, " and it might lead to "a miscarriage of justice." Victims responded stating that it is important to signal to those suffering in silence that it is safe to come forward.[7]

Archbishop of New Orleans

On June 12, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI named then-Bishop Aymond of Austin as the 14th Archbishop of New Orleans. He was installed as Archbishop of New Orleans on August 20, 2009, at the Saint Louis Cathedral. He continues, within the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, to chair the Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People and sits on the Committees for Campus Ministry, Education, Laity, and World Missions.[10] In an elaborate ceremony in 2009 at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, Pope Benedict XVI bestowed the pallium upon Aymond.

Archbishop Aymond faces challenges in "the aftermath of years of sex scandals and the unpopular consolidation of parishes and closing of churches for economic reasons" as phrased by Kevin McGill of the Associated Press. Even so, he said, "Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would come back here as [arch]bishop" on 2009 June 12.[9] Shortly after his appointment as Archbishop, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests issued a statement claiming he only "postures as someone who takes clergy sex crimes seriously."[7]

Consolidation of parishes

Archbishop Aymond's predecessor as Archbishop of New Orleans, Archbishop Alfred Clifton Hughes, implemented a controversial post-hurricane 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.[7] Aymond has allowed several churches to re-open for special occasions.[11]

Church recruitment

Archbishop Aymond is thought to be an effective recruiter of people to church vocations. The Diocese of Austin web site indicates that under his bishopric the number of seminarians increased threefold.[12][13]

Introduction of the New Roman Missal (Third Edition) in 2011

Aymond, while serving as Chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee on Divine Worship, announced on June 17, 2011, that diocesan bishops may permit the gradual introduction of the musical settings of the people's parts of the Mass that are sung from the New Roman Missal in September 2011. Primarily this affects the Gloria, the Holy, Holy, Holy, and the different Memorial Acclamations. This variation to the implementation of the Roman Missal Third Edition, set to take place all at once on November 27, 2011, was authorized by the Conference's President, Archbishop Dolan of New York.[14]

Opinions and attitudes

Archbishop Aymond has been described as a "quiet pragmatist who prefers to promote Catholic values in and out of his church without the public confrontations some colleagues willingly accept."[2]

A 2009 June 16 Times-Picayune editorial praised as "a promising way to begin" Archbishop Aymond's willingness to listen to his new flock.[15]

He has a reputation for taking on controversial issues in a direct and vocal way. He has called the confrontations a necessary part of being a bishop. "I don’t feel I have a responsibility or an obligation to make people do what the church says," he said in 2008. “In fact, I think that would be wrong. But I do have an obligation to say, 'This is what the church’s teaching is.'"[16]

Archbishop Aymond was one of more than 80 United States bishops who wrote to the University of Notre Dame (in South Bend, Indiana) to protest its award of an honorary degree to President Barack Obama whose support of abortion rights and embryonic stem cell research conflicted with Church teachings on the sanctity of life.[17]

In October 2007 Archbishop Aymond was criticized for his objection to the dissident Catholic theologian Fr. Charles Curran's scheduled appearance at St. Edward’s University, a Catholic school in South Austin. Curran is a priest whose Catholic theologian title was stripped by the Vatican because he openly questioned the church's ban on artificial birth control and its teaching on human sexuality.[18]

Archbishop Aymond is known as a strong proponent of the Catholic Church's position of opposing abortion, artificial birth control, and capital punishment. Aymond also believes that homosexuals should remain celibate.[16]

In June 2013, Aymond issued a statement of regret that his predecessor, Archbishop Philip Hannan, and the local church leadership ignored the arson attack on a local gay bar that killed 32 people 40 years earlier. Aymond wrote to Time magazine that "In retrospect, if we did not release a statement we should have to be in solidarity with the victims and their families.... The church does not condone violence and hatred. If we did not extend our care and condolences, I deeply apologize.[19]


Gregory Michael Aymond KCHS is Knight Commander and Grand Prior of the Southeastern Lieutenancy of the United States of America of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre.[20]


+ Aymond, Gregory Michael. Courageous Moral Leadership. Washington, DC: National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA), 2004. ISBN 1-55833-342-8, ISBN 978-1-55833-342-0. + Sofield, Loughlan; Juliano, Carroll; & Aymond, Gregory Michael. Facing Forgiveness: A Catholic’s Guide to Letting Go of Anger and Welcoming Reconciliation. Notre Dame, Indiana: Ave Maria Press, 2007. ISBN 1-59471-122-4, ISBN 978-1-59471-122-0.


  1. The annual Red Mass held on October 7. Retrieved November 30, 2014
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Nolan, Bruce (2009-08-20). "New archbishop of New Orleans to be installed today". The Times-Picayune.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 "Archbishop Gregory Michael Aymond". Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 "Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond". Roman Catholic Diocese of Austin.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 "Archbishop Gregory Michael Aymond".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. The Augusta Chronicle: "New Orleans native is city's new archbishop" June 13, 2009]
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 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
  8. Paul Boudreau & Gregory M. Aymond (interview), "Priest sexual abuse: Where are we now?" in Catholic Digest, 2007 April, pp. 28-34.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Kevin McGill, "New Orleans native is city's new archbishop" in Daily Star (Hammond), 2009 June 13, p. 7B.
  10. Announcement from the Vatican on 2009 June 12 at 5:00 AM CDT (New Orleans time).
  11. The Times-Picaynue: "2 closed Catholic churches Uptown will be open on Good Friday" March 25, 2010
  12. Diocese of Austin: Biography of Bishop Gregory M. Aymond, 2001–2009
  13. Clarion Herald: "Archbishop Aymond: 'Pray for our Seminarians by Name'" November 27, 2010
  14. United States Conference of Catholic Bishops: "USCCB President Authorizes Gradual Introduction of Musical Settings of New Roman Missal Starting In September" June 17, 2011
  15. "Archbishop and native son" in Times-Picayune, 2009 June 16, Saint Tammany Edition, p. B4.
  16. 16.0 16.1 The Austin Statesman: "Aymond: “I want to reconnect with people” in New Orleans" June 12, 2009
  17. "Obama's Notre Dame speech draws protest". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2009-05-11.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. Bruce Nolan & Ramon Antonio Vargas, "N.O. Native Named New Archbishop" in Times-Picayune, 2009 June 13, Saint Tammany Edition, p. A8.
  19. "The Upstairs Lounge Fire: The Little Known Story of the Largest Killing of Gays in US History". Time. June 21, 2013. Retrieved June 25, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. Grand Prior (Southeastern Lieutenancy)

External links

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Alfred Clifton Hughes
Archbishop of New Orleans
Succeeded by
Preceded by
John Edward McCarthy
Bishop of Austin
Succeeded by
Joe S. Vásquez
Preceded by
Coadjutor Bishop of Austin
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Auxiliary Bishop of New Orleans
Succeeded by