April 2000 Print

Heresy Blossoms Like a Rose

Dr. Justin Walsh

Part 1

AMERICANISM, 1890-1900

For this great progress [of the Church] we are indebted...to the civil liberty we enjoy in our enlightened republic. [Whereas] often the Church has been hampered and forced to struggle for existence, in the genial atmosphere of America she blossoms like the rose. —James Cardinal Gibbons (1887)

In marking the centenary of John Carroll's installation as the first Bishop of Baltimore, 1889 also marked the centennial of the French Revolution. Perhaps Archbishop John Ireland had the latter in mind when he said at the celebration of the former, "It was the religion of Christ that first whispered into the ears of the world the sacred words: charity, brotherhood, liberty." Ireland's "sacred words" were suspiciously akin to the Masonic tripod of "Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity" that had sparked the bloodbath in France a century earlier. Whatever he had in mind in reducing the "religion of Christ" to Jacobin sloganeering, Ireland was clear on one point. A few days before the formal dedication of the Catholic University of America (CUA), he addressed the question of why such an institution was needed. "This is an intellectual age," said the Archbishop. "Catholics must excel in religious knowledge [and] be in the foreground of intellectual movements of all kinds."2

In this manner John Ireland paid obeisance to the need for a national university built on the twin pillars of Catholicism and Americanism. The first building was dedicated in November 1889, and the CUA welcomed its first students in January 1890. The opening coincided with the unfolding of several unrelated events that brought the Americanist issue to the fore. We will discuss these in this two-part article.

First, John Ireland was trying to merge public and parochial schools in his diocese while simultaneously creating a new ecclesiastical province with himself at its head. If Ireland succeeded, Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan would become a province [The words provinces, metropolitan, and suffragan are used frequently throughout this story. Their definitions are found at the end of the article.] headed by Archbishop Michael Heiss of Milwaukee while St. Paul would be elevated to metropolitan status with suffragan sees in Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Archbishop Heiss had two good reasons to oppose Ireland: one, he led a knot of bishops in the Middle West who sought special privileges for German immigrants, privileges that Ireland believed would permanently retard the Americanization of German Catholics; and two, instead of merging public and parochial schools Heiss wanted the two absolutely separated. The Milwaukee prelate acted in the face of a state law that mandated criteria which parochial schools could not meet. According to Heiss Catholic parents had a "divine right" to ignore the requirements. There was more! In New York City Fr. Edward McGlynn, an outspoken champion of the Knights of Labor, endorsed Henry George, Labor's candidate for mayor. George had called for the abolition of private property in his book Progress and Poverty. In 1891 Archbishop Michael A. Corrigan condemned the book and tried to silence McGlynn. When the priest refused to submit he became a cause celebre in Americanist circles; Keane even suggested he might hire McGlynn to teach at Catholic University. At that point Corrigan, supported by his suffragan, Bishop Bernard McQuaid of Rochester, asked Rome to place George's book on the Index and condemn the Knights of Labor as a secret society forbidden to Catholics.

While the actions of Corrigan and McQuaid showed that not all Irish clerics were in lockstep with the Americanists, the Irish clique rallied behind McGlynn. Cardinal Gibbons, America's only Cardinal, sided with Ireland on the school question and endorsed O'Connell's effort in Rome to make St. Paul a metropolitan see. For his part, Ireland joined Gibbons, Keane, and O'Connell in favor of McGlynn and the Knights of Labor. This was the general situation in the summer of 1890 when John Ireland addressed the annual convention of the National Education Association.

The teachers provided a platform so Ireland could explain what they saw as contradictory stands by the Church vis-à-vis public schools. In Wisconsin Heiss had all but endorsed a boycott of state schools; in Minnesota Ireland called for a merger of the parochial and public systems. Bishop Ireland's "Faribault-Stillwater Plan" was operative in two overwhelmingly Catholic communities where nuns were paid by the state for teaching secular subjects on condition that religious instruction be confined to "after regular school hours." In his address the Archbishop spelled out why he thought the plan could save "Christian denominations" from the specter of "irreligion." In implementing the plan, said Ireland, "I would permeate [state schools] with the religion of the majority of the children of the land, be this religion as Protestant as Protestantism can be." He justified his religious indifferentism on grounds that state schools "tend to eliminate religion from the minds and hearts" of youth.

I am Catholic...to the tiniest fibre of my heart [but] believe me, my Protestant fellow-citizens, I am absolutely sincere when I declare that I speak for the weal of Protestantism as well as that of Catholicism.

He ended on a pleading note:

Let me be your ally in warding off from the country irreligion, the destroyer of Christian life and...civilization. What we have to fear is the materialism that does not see beyond the universe a living personal God, and the agnosticism that reduces Him to an unknown perhaps.3

Ireland's plan went nowhere because the public schools adamantly opposed it. Also, the prelate's attention was diverted by the sudden death of Archbishop Heiss.

A crisis arose in April, 1890, when Bishop Frederick Katzer of Green Bay, Wisconsin, became the likely choice to fill the vacancy in Milwaukee. Ireland, who once said that Katzer "knows as little about America as a Huron [Indian]," moved to prevent such an eventuality. He saw that Katzer's elevation would increase German influence in the Church and threaten St. Paul as a metropolitan see. Or, as Ireland put it in a letter to Cardinal Gibbons, the Bishop of Green Bay was "a man thoroughly German and thoroughly unfit to be an archbishop." He added that "This Milwaukee question is a most important one for the American Church, and I will rely on your enlightened co-operation in solving it." Within a month Ireland wrote to Denis O'Connell in Rome to suggest his own candidate: "John Lancaster Spalding is the only man for Milwaukee. We may as well decide that at once and work up to it."4

John Ireland and his allies lost Milwaukee because they alienated a sufficient number of Churchmen to swing the contest to Katzer and because John Spalding dropped out of the running for personal reasons. The fight had pitted Americanists against Germans in a bitter ecclesiastical brawl that spanned 15 months. It ended in August, 1891, with Katzer installed as Cardinal Gibbons preached the sermon. "Woe to him...who would destroy or impair [the] blessed harmony that reigns among...the fair fields of the Church in America," the Cardinal proclaimed. He ended with a veiled warning to the Germanizers:

The Author of our being has stamped in the human breast a love for one's country and therefore patriotism is a sentiment commended by Almighty God Himself. Let us glory in the title of American citizen. We owe our allegiance to one country, and that country is America. We must be in harmony with our political institutions. It matters not whether this is the land of our birth or our adoption. It is the land of our destiny.5

As 1891 ended the Germans had Milwaukee. Gibbons had delivered a speech that he intended as a coup de grace to Germanizers. Ireland had won metropolitan status for his see city thanks to Denis O'Connell's effort in Rome. And the Americanist heresy was preparing to move to a wider stage at the Chicago World's Fair.

In 1890 Congress passed a bill allowing cities to compete for the right to host an exhibition in celebration of the 400th anniversary of Columbus's discovery of America. Chicago won and in 1893, 12 million people visited a Columbian Exposition devoted to "the material and artistic achievements" of America that was in fact a display of crass materialism unlike anything the world had yet seen. Edison's recently-invented electric light literally changed night into day along a carnival-like "midway" featuring such exotic attractions as "Little Egypt" performing her "dance of seven veils." Also featured was the first "ferris wheel." For those inclined to more sedate attractions, there were numerous congresses scheduled to examine "pressing literary, scientific, and religious problems of the times." The gathering that generated the most excitement was the so-called "Parliament of Religions," scheduled for two weeks in September and at which Rome inexplicably agreed to let Catholics "exchange ideas" with Protestants, Jews, Confucianists, Buddhists, Mohammedans, and "representatives of many other sects."

As rector of the CUA, John J. Keane orchestrated participation in a display of unrestrained religious indifferentism, long held by the Church to be dangerous to the Faith. Cardinal Gibbons, the highest-ranking prelate in the United States, offered the opening prayer on September 11. Overflowing with ecumenism, he recited the Protestant version of the Lord's Prayer: "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors....For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever! Amen [emphasis on characteristically Protestant words added]." Bishop Keane seemed awestruck describing how "representatives of the principal religions...passed in procession down the central aisle" for the solemn opening: "A marvelous spectacle it was—that grouping of all races and tongues, that variety of national costumes and religious insignia, with the purple robe and gentle figure of our beloved cardinal for center piece."

The "marvelous spectacle" was reprised at the closing ceremony on September 28 when Gibbons again offered the Protestant Lord's Prayer. During the congress the Cardinal spoke on "interdenominational co-operation" and John Ireland delivered an address on his favorite theme about how much America meant to Catholicism. John Keane seemed especially pleased, lauding the proceedings in a souvenir volume as an "assemblage of intelligent and conscientious men, presenting their religious convictions without minimizing, without acrimony, without controversy, with love and truth and humanity."6

Bishop Keane spent much of 1894 urging Catholics to broaden their participation in such events. He started in January with an article in the Bulletin de l'Institut Catholique of Paris. The article advocated a kind of worldwide replication of the Columbian Exposition so that Catholics might evangelize the modern world.

The great discovery [of America]...inaugurated a Providential revolution, a progress in the condition of society and in the whole organization of human life....A distinctive feature in the mission of America is the reunion of the long-divided children of God by the destruction of barriers and enmities which separate race from race. Why could not something of the kind be done with regard to religious divisions and enmities? Why should not religious congresses combine in an international congress of religions where all might meet in mutual tolerance and charity, where all forms of religion might rise up together against all forms of irreligion?7

In an address before the International Scientific Congress of Catholics in Brussels the following September, Keane expanded his vision to encompass the whole world.

When we studied a map of Europe we saw it marked with little divisions—lines that represent not merely territorial boundaries but jealousy and hatred and hostility and division of hearts, expressed in God knows how many millions of men armed to destroy the world. Now, from all these nations God has permitted emigration to us. All nations...among us...live together fraternally without enmity. God has privileged America to destroy those traditions of national jealousies, which you in Europe perpetuate, to mold them all in American unity....I have but to look round me and see how the human race is setting itself more and more to hate hatred and enmity. Humanity is beyond question striving for gentler manners and a greater extension of charity. But is it not the aim of religion to unite man with God and his fellow brethren? Religion is charity! Even though we could not agree about creeds, is it not possible to [agree] about charity?

Keane concluded with the amazing statement that, "because of certain prejudices," the Church would never convene a Parliament of Religions. But, "since it is absolutely decided that the Congress will meet, Catholic Church or no Catholic Church, our participation is a matter of necessity" [emphasis added].8

Orthodox Catholics considered Catholic participation in religious congresses occasions of scandal and therefore sinful. Other events of 1894 heightened anti-Americanist sentiment. John Ireland's reckless intervention in the ecclesiastical and secular politics of New York state was one. The dismissal of conservative professors at the Catholic University was another.

The trouble in New York originated at the Plenary Council of 1884 when Bishop Ireland defended Catholic membership in the Grand Army of the Republic and the Ancient Order of Hibernians. He had served as a chaplain for both groups in spite of the fact that Rome had barred the faithful from joining either. In the late 1880s Gibbons, Keane, and O'Connell opposed Archbishop Corrigan and Rome on behalf of Fr. McGlynn and the Knights of Labor. By then promotion of secret societies had become endemic to the Americanist heresy, putting it at odds with orthodox Churchmen.

Rome's policy, of course, was based upon statements by Leo XIII in Humanum Genus [On Freemasonry, 1884]  in which the Pope specifically warned the faithful to beware of organizations associated with Masonry that "hide their real character under the mask of universal toleration, of respect for all religions, of the mania of reconciling the maxims of the Gospel with those of revolution." Regarding the unity of all secret societies, Leo added:

There are several organized bodies which, though differing in name, in ceremonial, in form and origin, are nevertheless so bound together by community of purpose and by the similarity of their main opinions, as to make in fact one thing with the sect of the Freemasons, which is a kind of center whence they all go forth, and whither they all return. Now, these no longer show a desire to remain concealed; for they hold their meetings in the daylight and before the public eye, and publish their own newspaper organs; and yet, when thoroughly understood, they are found still to retain the nature and the habits of secret societies. There are many things like mysteries which it is the fixed rule to hide with extreme care, not only from strangers, but from very many members also; such as their secret and final designs, the names of the chief leaders, and certain inner and secret meetings, as well as their decisions, and the ways and means of carrying them out.9

In 1894, after Rome added the Knights of Pythias, the Elks, and the International Order of Odd Fellows to the forbidden groups, the Cardinal Archbishop of Baltimore was so incensed he refused to publish the decree. Francesco Cardinal Satolli, the apostolic delegate to the United States, reported Gibbons to Rome for "insubordination" but no action was taken against the Cardinal.10

In the spring of 1894, the Archbishop of St. Paul intervened to defeat Bishop Bernard McQuaid when the latter ran for the so-called Catholic seat on the State Board of Education. While the legislature which would make the selection met, John Ireland "busied himself in writing letters from far Minnesota" in favor of McQuaid's opponent. Fr. Sylvester Malone, an outspoken supporter of suspended priest, Edward McGlynn, said that he would work for the disappearance of parochial schools which he termed "un-American." The election "was none of [Ireland's] business" said an irate McQuaid. "He [knew] that the Archbishop of New York and his suffragans wanted the election of a candidate [McQuaid] having the power and the will to protect the interests of the Catholic schools." But Ireland persisted, and a Republican-controlled legislature elected Fr. Malone.

During the next October John Ireland went to New York City and spent a month prior to Election Day lambasting Democrats for being "wet" on the liquor question whereas the Archbishop and Republicans were "dry." The climax came at a giant rally featuring Benjamin Harrison. Ireland seated himself next to the former president "who was flattered by my presence. As I saw for myself, in attending the rally I had done a deed with happy results for the Church." William McKinley, a U.S. Senator from Ohio, and Theodore Roosevelt, a New York State Representative, were also present. Although neither sat next to Benjamin Harrison, both future presidents had the pleasure of meeting the Archbishop of St. Paul.11

On the First Sunday of Advent in 1894 (the third Sunday after Election Day) Bernard McQuaid, "mitered and with crozier in hand," rose in his cathedral to denounce the interloper from Minnesota. "John Ireland was guilty of unseemly action contrary to episcopal dignity, and one which is a scandal for right-minded Catholics," McQuaid began. He continued:

If we are to believe the newspapers, Minnesota stands in great need of being purified and His Grace might have found ample scope there for the exercise of his political zeal. But...it was not love of good government which induced Archbishop Ireland to spend so many weeks in New York, away from his diocese, where the law relative to residence obliged him to be.

No, McQuaid insisted, Ireland came "to acquit himself of a debt to the Republican party [for electing Fr. Malone to the board of regents]." McQuaid added that an appeal to Rome might be necessary to teach the "conspirators"—his term for Ireland, Gibbons, Keane, and O'Connell—to stay home and tend their respective flocks. To forestall action by Rome, Ireland wrote to Propaganda [i.e., the Sacred Congregation of Propaganda, established for dealing with all ecclesiastical affairs in missions of the Latin rite throughout the world and having jurisdiction over all foreign missions—Ed.] about McQuaid's pique: "My letters had...more effect than all the effort he and his friends made in their own state. He was defeated, and he won't forgive me for that."12

It was clear by 1895 that Americanist views were incompatible with orthodox Catholicism. In the spiritual realm Keane was hell-bent on fostering interdenominational congresses. In the temporal realm Ireland, and to a lesser extent Gibbons, had peculiar penchants for meddling in things better left alone by Churchmen. In such a situation action by Rome was inevitable. It came on January 6 when Leo XIII addressed Longinqua Oceani to American bishops.

The Pope began by noting that the United States had a "good Constitution" and as a result Catholicism was unhindered, protected alike by law and the impartial administration of justice. Nonetheless the Holy Father warned that "it would be an error to conclude that America furnishes an example of the ideal condition for the Church or that it is always lawful and expedient that civil and religious affairs should be disjoined and kept apart." According to the Pope, in a formal letter addressed to all American bishops, it would be an error to say that religious liberty and the separation of Church and State were beneficial to the Catholic Church. In explicit refutation of Gibbons's notion that American liberty caused the Church to "blossom like a rose," the Pope asserted that if the Catholic religion "is safe among you and is even blessed with increase" it was "entirely due to the divine fruitfulness of the Church." He concluded tellingly that "the fruit would be still more abundant if the Church enjoyed not only liberty but the favor of...laws and...protection of the public power."13

Few, if any, heeded the Holy Father's warnings. They redoubled their efforts, with immediately dire consequences for Denis O'Connell and John Keane. O'Connell fell first when, in the summer of 1895, he was removed as rector of the North American College. His cohorts unsuccessfully defended him, although Gibbons did succeed in keeping him in Rome as rector of the Cardinal's titular church. From this vantage point O'Connell became "a kind of liason officer of the American hierarchy, and more particularly its left wing" until he returned to the United States in 1903.14 Catholic liberals claim that "the suppositious liberalism of the Catholic University" was responsible for the dismissal in 1896 of John J. Keane. In fact the liberalism of neither the CUA nor its rector was "suppositious." As the California Volksfreund noted, "It was clear enough from the beginning that Americanism was interwoven with the plan for the...University." This newspaper called instead for something that Keane could never provide: "a Catholic University with Catholic professors [where] the doctrine of the Catholic, and not of an American Church, is taught."15

The beginning of the end for Bishop Keane came in 1893 when he dismissed Georges Peries, a French canonist, and Joseph Schroeder, a German Scripture scholar, from the faculty. The two blamed their firing on what Fr. Peries termed "the crisis of American Catholicism" and appealed to Rome. In their appeals they charged Keane with political and racial bias and cited questionable passages from his writings. Roman authorities asked Apostolic Delegate Francesco Cardinal Satolli to evaluate the matter. The Italian had long suspected that Americanists were doctrinally unsound. In the Keane case, however, Satolli was careful to avoid doctrinal disputes.

Instead, in a series of letters to Rome, he indicted the rector for such administrative shortcomings as failure to discipline students, habitually "talking nonsense," wasting resources on athletic contests, hiring non-Catholic professors, and contemplating the admission of women as students. Satolli's indictment was sufficient to get Keane removed but insufficient to get the dismissed professors reinstated. Cardinal Gibbons informed John Keane that no less a person than Pope Leo XIII demanded he resign from the CUA. To help the prelate save face the Pope offered Keane either a titular archbishopric in Rome or a metropolitan see in the US.16 In 1897 Keane accepted the titular appointment and moved to Rome where he joined Denis O'Connell in advancing the Americanist agenda from exile.

It seems John Ireland escaped Cardinal Satolli's wrath because the Italian found the Irishman so likable, especially for the impressive treatment given him by Ireland during his U.S. visits in 1892 when he had arranged for Satolli to meet with President Benjamin Harrison and in 1895 when Ireland invited him to the dedication of St. Thomas Seminary (St. Paul, Minn.), a brand new half-million-dollar facility.

In 1896 Democrats nominated William Jennings Bryan for president, who promised to abolish the gold standard [i.e., dollars directly redeemable in gold—Ed.] if he won election. "Gold Democrats" joined incumbent Democrat President Grover Cleveland in denouncing this "monetary radicalism" and called for the election of Republican William McKinley. The avowedly Republican Archbishop Ireland issued an election pastoral: "There are occasions when a political platform means disaster for the country, when politics is closely connected with morals and religion, and on those occasions the churchman must be the patriot [and] take in hand the moral or religious issue, even if it be vested in the garment of politics."

A half-million copies of the pastoral were printed for nationwide distribution. When Ireland visited Washington before the election, President Cleveland called the Archbishop to the White House to thank him for his denunciation of the Democrat platform.

With apparent designs to be made a Cardinal, Archbishop Ireland accepted William McKinley's invitation to a pre-inaugural visit at the President-elect's home in Canton, Ohio. At that meeting Ireland offered the name of his Masonic friend, former Minnesota Governor Lucius Hubbard, as an ideal person to head the American Embassy in Rome. McKinley did not appoint Hubbard, but he told Ireland that the Archbishop would always be welcome at the White House during the upcoming administration.17 As a result, the President and the Churchman developed a real rapport. On one side, John Ireland supported William McKinley during the press-inspired uproar over Cuba that led to the Spanish-American War, and during the political fight over annexation of the Philippines that followed the war. On the other side, the Methodist Mason who was President of the United States stood by the Americanist bishop bidding for a Red Hat in the midst of the furor over Americanism. The importance of the relationship between McKinley and Ireland cannot be exaggerated. The St. Paul prelate made it appear that American Catholics supported overseas expansion at the expense of Catholic Spain in 1898. And expansion at Spain's expense was entrenched in the nation's psyche where it was known as "Manifest Destiny," an idea that was manifestly anti-Catholic.


Coming in the June 2000 Issue: The conclusion of this article discovers more of the intrigue between the fearsome foursome—Ireland, Keane, O'Connell, and Gibbons. How these clerics, in union with President McKinley and a gang of prominent Masons, embraced the U.S. policy of "Manifest Destiny" to war against Catholic Spain's holdings in Cuba and the Philippine Islands. The effects of Leo XIII's Testem Benevolentiae in the United States. The ascent of Pope Pius X and the reaction of Americanists. The foursome go into decline.


Dr. Justin Walsh has an undergraduate degree in Journalism and a Master's degree in History from Marquette University and a doctorate in History from Indiana University. He currently teaches at the Society of Saint Pius X's St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary, Winona, Minnesota, U.S.A.


1. As quoted in Isaac Hecker, The Church and the Age (New York: Paulist Press, 1887), pp. 100-101.

2. Religion of Christ quote in James H. Moynihan, The Life of Archbishop John Ireland (New York: Harper & Bros., 1953), p. 35; education quotes in John Tracy Ellis, American Catholicism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1955), pp. 116-117.

3. For the plan and the speech, see Marvin R. O'Connell, John Ireland and the American Catholic Church (St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1988) pp. 296-300; see also Ellis, Catholicism, p.109.

4. Letters to Gibbons and Denis O'Connell as cited in O'Connell, John Ireland and the American Catholic Church, p. 293; for Huron quote see Theodore Maynard, The Catholic Church and the American Idea (New York: Appleton, Century, Crofts, 1953), p. 87.

5. Sermon as printed in Francis Beauchesne Thornton, Our American Princes: The Story of the Seventeen American Cardinals (New York: G. P. Putnams's Sons, 1965), p. 59.

6. Keane as quoted in O'Connell, John Ireland and the American Catholic Church, p. 387; for the opening and closing ceremonies see Thornton, Our American Princes, p. 61, and Charles Maignen, Father Hecker, Is He A Saint? (English edition, London: Burns and Oates, 1898), pp. 223-224, 230.

7. Keane as quoted in Maignen, Father Hecker, pp. 223-224.

8. Keane as quoted in ibid.

9. Paragraph 9, Tan Books and Publishers edition, 1978, p. 5.

10. For Gibbons and secret societies see Thornton, Our American Princes, pp. 56-57. Catholic historians almost without exception have lauded Gibbons's "progressive" stand on secret societies. Liberal non-Catholics writing in 1964 agreed: "Gibbons' plea to Propaganda won assurance that the Knights of Labor would not be condemned in the United States and created a remarkable impression, as did his efforts to prevent condemnation by the Church of Henry George's Progress and Poverty." See Anson Phelps Stokes and Leo Pfeffer, Church and State in the United States (New York: Harper and Row, 1964), p. 322. For Ireland, the GAR and Hibernians see O'Connell, John Ireland and the American Catholic Church, p. 229.

11. See O'Connell, John Ireland and the American Catholic Church, pp. 395-396. Benjamin Harrison was the first president of the United States to receive Archbishop Ireland in the White House. As an office holder he had done the Archbishop many favors. While a Senator from Indiana in the 1880s he sponsored the bill that divided Dakota into two territories. At the behest of Ireland and James J. Hill, President Harrison signed bills in 1889 and 1890 that admitted North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Washington, Idaho, and Wyoming to the Union. In 1892, upon Ireland's request, the President "bestowed the honors of the nation upon Msgr. Satolli," the apostolic delegate.

12. For Ireland's foray into New York, O'Connell, John Ireland and the American Catholic Church, pp. 395-400. For the text of McQuaid's sermon see Maignen, Father Hecker, pp. 278-283. See also Maynard, American Idea, pp. 92-93.

13. Longinqua Oceani as printed in Maignen, Father Hecker, pp. 207-208.

14. For O'Connell's fate see Maynard, American Idea, p. 96.

15. California Volksfreund as quoted in ibid., pp. 87 and 94.

16. For Keane's dismissal see O'Connell, John Ireland and the American Catholic Church, pp. 421-424.

17. For Ireland and the election see ibid., pp. 424-425.


Province: That territory made up of several dioceses under the jurisdiction of an archbishop or metropolitan, the archdiocese, and at least one suffragan diocese.

Suffragan (diocese and/or bishop): A diocese which forms part of a province; also referring to the bishop who has jurisdiction over the suffragan diocese.

Metropolitan: In past usage meaning the bishop of the largest city or the place where the government was and who was considered to rank over the bishops of lesser places; also referring to the see held by such a bishop. At present, the term is applied to archbishops in large cities who have suffragan dioceses.