Military Wiki

Philip Matthew Hannan
Born May 20, 1913
Washington, District of Columbia
Died September 29, 2011(2011-09-29) (aged 98)
Chateau de Notre Dame in New Orleans, Louisiana
Nationality American
Alma mater St. John's College High School
U.S. Military Academy
St. Charles College in Catonsville, Maryland
Sulpician Seminary
Predecessor John Patrick Cardinal Cody, Deceased, Cardinal Archbishop Emeritus of Chicago and Archbishop Emeritus of New Orleans
Successor Francis Bible Schulte, Archbishop Emeritus of New Orleans

Philip Matthew Hannan (May 20, 1913 – September 29, 2011) was an American Roman Catholic Archbishop. Archbishop Hannan, in his episcopal career, served as Auxiliary Bishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington and later as the Eleventh Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans from September 29, 1965 to December 6, 1988.

Education and ordination[]

Philip Hannan attended high school at St. John's College High School in northwest Washington, D.C, where he was a leader in both scholastic work and sports activities. He captained the winning cadet company in his senior year there. Before high school graduation, he surprised his family by saying that instead of taking the entrance exam to gain admittance into the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, he would become a priest. He then began college studies at St. Charles College in Catonsville, Maryland, and then at the Sulpician Seminary (known now as Theological College) affiliated with The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. Following his studies at The Catholic University of America, where he received a Master's Degree, Hannan studied from 1936 to 1939 as a major seminarian at the North American College in Rome, where he personally witnessed the rise of fascism in Italy and Germany. He would later write a biographical account, Rome: Living under the Axis, detailing his experiences in Rome. He received a Licentiate in Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and later earned a Doctorate in Canon Law from Catholic University. Hannan was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Baltimore-Washington by His Excellency, The Most Reverend Ralph Hayes, Rector of the Pontifical North American College (and later Bishop of the Diocese of Davenport, Iowa) on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, 1939.[1]

The newly ordained Father Hannan remained in Rome until the following summer (1940), when all American seminarians were ordered to leave by the U.S. Secretary of State to maintain their personal safety. He returned to the United States (celebrating his first Mass in the States at the Cathedral of Saint Matthew the Apostle in Washington, D.C. on June 16, 1940), and spent the next two years as a curate (assistant pastor, or parochial vicar) at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Baltimore, Maryland.[2]

World War II[]

After the attack on Pearl Harbor and the United States' entry into World War II, Father Hannan was commissioned in the United States Army, where he served as a chaplain to the 82nd Airborne Division. Joining the 82nd in Belgium, he ministered to the paratroopers during the Ardennes Offensive. Father Hannan served through the end of the European theater of war and afterward as they began to uncover the Nazi horrors during the liberation of starved prisoners at the Wöbbelin concentration camp.[3] After the war, Father Hannan served briefly as pastor of the Cologne Cathedral during the American occupation of Germany.[4][5]

Auxiliary Bishop of Washington, D.C.[]

He returned to the United States and served for a time as an assistant priest at St. Mary Mother of God parish in Chinatown (in Washington, D.C.) in the Archdiocese of Baltimore-Washington.[2] When the archdiocese of Washington was split from the archdiocese of Baltimore on November 15, 1947, with separate archbishops being appointed for them, Hannan became a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington and in 1948 was appointed vice chancellor of that Archdiocese.

In 1951, Hannan established the Catholic Standard newspaper in Washington and served as its editor-in-chief. Later that same year he was named chancellor of the Archdiocese, and Pope Pius XII honored Father Hannan in 1952 by naming him a Monsignor. On June 16, 1956, Hannan was named Titular Bishop of Hieropolis and Auxiliary Bishop of Washington, and was consecrated in the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle on August 28. As Auxiliary Bishop of Washington, Hannan was part of the U.S. delegation to the Second Vatican Council, where he served as a press officer. Until his death in 2011, Hannan was one of two living United States bishops to have attended all four sessions of Vatican II, along with Raymond Hunthausen, Archbishop Emeritus of Seattle, Washington. During his 9 years as Auxiliary Bishop of Washington, and because of his skills as a press officer in both Baltimore and Washington, Hannan became acquainted with several prominent politicians, especially the Kennedy family. It was his familiarity with the Kennedys that would move Hannan into the national spotlight. Hannan was in Rome for meetings of the Second Session of the Second Vatican Council in November 1963 when news reached him concerning the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, which forced his immediate return to Washington. At Kennedy's state funeral mass, Richard Cardinal Cushing, Archbishop of Boston, served as the principal celebrant. Cushing was a close friend of the family who had witnessed and blessed the marriage of Senator Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier in 1953, baptized two of their children, given the invocation at President Kennedy's inauguration, and officiated at the recent funeral of the President's infant son, Patrick Bouvier Kennedy. Hannan, however, was asked by the Kennedy family to deliver the homily at the "low" or recited Requiem Mass (as opposed to a "high" or sung Requiem Mass which a high government official would ordinarily receive), which substituted for a formal eulogy, since a traditional eulogy was not permitted by the Catholic Church (the first presidential funeral to feature a formal eulogy was that of Kennedy's successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, in 1973). This responsibility normally would have fallen to the Archbishop of Washington at the time, Patrick Cardinal O'Boyle, but he generously allowed his assistant to do so.[6] In 1968, he returned to Washington from New Orleans to deliver the graveside eulogy for Senator Robert F. Kennedy, and in 1994, he offered graveside prayers at the interment of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis in Arlington National Cemetery.

Archbishop of New Orleans[]

During the Fourth Session of Vatican II, specifically on September 29, 1965, Hannan was appointed as the eleventh Archbishop of New Orleans, succeeding Archbishop John Cody (later Cardinal), who had been transferred to Chicago. He moved to New Orleans only weeks after Hurricane Betsy hit the city, and he became a spiritual leader during the rebuilding of both the city and the archdiocese.

He presided over the New Orleans archdiocese during a time of great change. The Second Vatican Council concluded on December 8, 1965, and Archbishop Hannan led the effort to implement the Council's policies of reform within the archdiocese. Hannan instituted a Social Apostolate program in 1966 which now provides over 20 million pounds of free food each year to 42,000 needy women, children and elderly. He also reformed the Archdiocesan Catholic Charities system, which now serves as the largest non-governmental social service agency in the New Orleans metropolitan area. At the same time, the demographics of the city were changing, as Catholic whites moved to the suburbs, while Orleans Parish became increasingly Protestant. New churches and parishes were being built throughout the city, while attendance in inner-city churches declined.[7]

As for his political views, Archbishop Hannan was known to be a staunch anti-Communist, and was one of the leaders of a moderate minority of bishops who opposed the May 3, 1983 pastoral letter of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops entitled The Challenge of Peace: God's Promise and Our Response, which came out strongly against the notion of deterrence and advocated a nuclear freeze with the Soviet Union.

Hannan was archbishop when Pope John Paul II made his Apostolic Visit to New Orleans between September 11 and 13, 1987, the first ever papal visit to the city. Hannan, who considered the visit the highlight of his tenure as Archbishop, was the Pontiff's personal guide throughout his three-day tour of the city.[8][9]

In May 1988, upon reaching his 75th birthday and in accordance with Canon Law, Archbishop Hannan submitted his resignation. This resignation was accepted by Pope John Paul II on December 6, 1988, when Hannan was succeeded as Archbishop by Francis Schulte, then Bishop of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia.


Archbishop Hannan was the Archbishop of New Orleans for over twenty years. He received numerous civic honors including the most prestigious award presented to a New Orleans civic leader, The Times-Picayune Loving Cup. In 1987, The Catholic University of America namrd its new science center Hannan Hall and conferred upon him the honorary Doctor of Laws Degree. He also holds an honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from Georgetown University. In 1996, Hannan was awarded the Pacem in Terris Award, named after a 1963 encyclical letter by Pope John XXIII that calls upon all people of good will to secure peace among all nations. Pacem in Terris is Latin for 'Peace on Earth.'

Also in 1996, Hannan, as a retired archbishop, publicly opposed the election of Democrat Mary Landrieu, a Roman Catholic whose family had been Hannan's longtime friends, to the United States Senate. Although stopping short of endorsing (or even mentioning) Landrieu's Republican opponent, Woody Jenkins, the retired archbishop had become concerned, as he explained, by the endorsement of Landrieu by Emily's List, an organization devoted to pro-choice candidates on the issue of abortion.[10] Emily's List later ceased its support of Senator Landrieu prior to her 2002 re-election because of her congressional opposition to intact dilation and extraction (partial-birth abortion). Hannan's 1996 declaration has been cited as influential on later Catholic prelates injecting themselves into politics by issuing warning statements about pro abortion rights Catholic politicians and in barring them from communion.[11]

At the age of 92, Hannan was still in the news when it was revealed that, during Hurricane Katrina, he courageously remained at a studio in a Catholic television station he had founded in Metairie, in order to protect it from looting. In the aftermath of Katrina, Hannan continued in the effort to revive New Orleans, by both inspiring residents spiritually and pitching into the clean-up effort physically.

On Thanksgiving Day, November 27, 2008, from his home in Covington, the retired archbishop published his "Thanksgiving and Christmas Blessings" in the New Orleans Times-Picayune. The full-page announcement was mostly a pro-life appeal expressing particular concern over the potential threat that the "evil" Freedom of Choice Act might be passed into law by the incoming United States Congress and the Presidential administration of Barack Obama. The ad cited the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade and, quoting the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, warns that "a bad court decision will be enshrined in bad legislation that is more radical than the decision itself."[12]

In May 2010, Our Sunday Visitor Publishing published Hannan's memoirs in The Archbishop Wore Combat Boots – From Combat, to Camelot, to Katrina: A Memoir of an Extraordinary Life by Archbishop Philip Hannan with Nancy Collins and Peter Finney, Jr., hardcover, 457 pages, ISBN 978-1-59276-697-0.


Archbishop Hannan died on Thursday, September 29, 2011, at the age of 98. He died at Chateau de Notre Dame, a senior apartment complex and elder care facility that he first envisioned and then dedicated in 1977 to provide for older people in the Archdiocese. He had moved there, from his private residence in Covington, Louisiana, in June 2011; he had grown increasingly frail in recent months because of a series of strokes and other health problems.[13][14] At the time of his death, he was the third-oldest Catholic Bishop in the United States (after Newark's Archbishop Emeritus Peter Leo Gerety, who turned 99 on July 19, 2011, and Buffalo Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Bernard J. McLaughlin, who turned 99 on November 19, 2011).

Accolades and statements of condolence came from New Orlean's current Archbishop, Gregory Michael Aymond; both Archbishops Emeritus of New Orleans (his immediate successor, Francis Bible Schulte; and Alfred Clifton Hughes); Louisiana's Governor Bobby Jindal, both of Louisiana's U.S. Senators, and many of its Representatives and state government officials. Archbishop Aymond received the body of the late Archbishop on October 3, 2011, at the Notre Dame Seminary Chapel. A special evening of prayer, with the recital of the Liturgy of the Hours, was celebrated by the Archdiocese's priests, followed by a wake service and public viewing. Public viewings took place at the chapel all day Tuesday, October 4, and until noon, Wednesday, October 5, when a horse-drawn funeral procession went to St. Louis Cathedral. Additional public viewings were held at the Cathedral. Archbishop Aymond, along with other U.S. Bishops, celebrated a Funeral Mass for Archbishop Hannan on Thursday, October 6, 2011 at the Cathedral, followed by his burial in a crypt beneath the sanctuary.


  1. [1]
  2. Saint Louis Cathedral "Archbishop Hannan, Eleventh Archbishop".
  4. Finney, Peter. Clarion Herald. "Abp. Hannan, 'Bearer of the Eucharist,' celebrates 60 years." Dec. 23, 1999."
  5. Archdiocese of New Orleans. "Bishops and Archbishops".
  6. "Archbishop Hannan and the Kennedys: The Untold Story". WVUE [Fox] Channel 8, New Orleans. 25 November 2008. 
  7. Nolan, Charles E.. A History of the Archdiocese of New Orleans. "The Post-Vatican II Years 1965–1989". May 2001.
  8. Mullener, Elizabeth. Times-Picayune. Pope John Paul II Special Report. Sep. 11–13, 1987.
  9. Grissett, Sheila. Times-Picayune. "Walking Among Us'". Apr. 03, 2005.
  10. See and
  12. Signed by Philip M. Hannan and accompanied by his picture, the announcement presents a "Statement of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops" and covers all of p. A15 in the 27 November 2008 Times-Picayune (Metro Edition). The ad "looks forward to working with President-elect Obama and the members of the new Congress for the common good of all" (i.e., "all" in a sense which includes prenatal children) and stresses the "watchman" concept in Psalm 127:1: "If the Lord does not build the house, in vain do its builders labor; if the Lord does not watch over the city, in vain does the watchman keep vigil."


General references[]

Further reading[]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
John Patrick Cardinal Cody
Archbishop of New Orleans
Succeeded by
Francis Bible Schulte

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