Assignment Record – Bishop James S. Rausch

Summary of Case: A priest of the St. Cloud diocese ordained in 1956, Rausch started his career as a high school teacher and spiritual director. He earned a PhD in pastoral psychology in Rome, and went on to become General Secretary of the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops. Rausch was known as a champion of social justice issues. He was ordained Auxiliary Bishop of St. Cloud in 1973, then Bishop of Phoenix in 1977, where he served until his sudden death in 1981, at age 52 . Rausch was accused in a lawsuit that was settled in 2002 of sexually abusing 17 year-old boy in 1979. His accuser, who is said to have had incriminating photographs of Rausch, claimed that Rausch then "passed him on" to two other priests.


Born: Sept. 4, 1928
: June 2, 1956
Died: May 18, 1981


Start Stop Parish/Assignment Town/Accusations State/Country Position Notes


St. Cloud bishop was Peter William Bartholome (1953-1968)

1957 St. Mary's Cathedral St. Cloud MN 6/6 The cathedral had a school with 650 students.
1957 1967 Holy Angels St. Cloud MN 4/6, 5/6, 5/7, 5/8, 4/7, 3/7
Holy Angels had a school with 212-82 students.
1957 1967 Cathedral High School St. Cloud MN teacher; spiritual director 1957-1962 Cathedral High School had 515-774 boys and 631-903 boys.
1967 1968 On Duty Outside the Diocese/ Casa Santa Maria Rome Italy   Rausch earned a PhD in pastoral psychology from the Gregorian University in Rome.


Bartholome was succeeded by George Henry Speltz (1968-1987)

1972 On Duty Outside the Diocese/USCC Washington DC Assistant General Secretary 1970-1972 Rausch was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of St. Cloud March 5, 1973, consecrated April 26, 1973.
1972 1977 NSCCB-USCC Washington DC General Secretary This was the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops. Rausch succeeded Bishop Joseph Bernardin, and was known as a strong advocate of progressive issues.


Phoenix bishop was James S. Rausch (1977-1981)



Rausch was accused in a lawsuit settled in 2002 of sexually abusing a 17 year-old boy in 1979. His accuser said he first encountered Rausch when the bishop drove up beside him in a car and offered him a ride. The accuser said Rausch offered him money for sex, and that the bishop said his name was "Paul". The exchange of sex for money is said to have occurred on several occasions over a few months, during which time the boy was becoming addicted to heroin. Rausch is said to have suggested to the boy that he go to either Msgr. Robert Trupia or Rev. William T. Byrne for drug counseling. Both were priests of the Tucson diocese.

Between 1995 and 2002 the Phoenix diocese was contacted twice regarding Rausch's "sexual improprieties".

AZ Bishop

Rausch was appointed Bishop of Phoenix Jan. 25, 1977 and was installed March 22, 1977.



Rausch's accuser said that he later had sexual encounters with Trupia and Byrne.

Rausch died of a heart attack at age 52 on May 18, 1981.

Rausch's accuser claimed that in 1982 he was given a part time job in the Tuscon diocese's chancery in exchange for his silence. He worked there for six years.

When confronted by church officials in 1992 with an accusation against him, Trupia threatened to publicly expose scandalous information about Rausch.


Source: Official Catholic Directory (New York: P.J. Kenedy and Sons, 1957-1982)

Letter from Rausch to Cardinal Medeiros re Paul Shanley Sept. 7, 1976
Bishop James Rausch, At 52 After Heart Attack, By Marjorie Hyer, Washington Post, May 19, 1981
Ariz. abuse case names bishop, 2 priests, By Michael Rezendes, Boston Globe, August 20, 2002
Panel Investigating Sex Abuse Charges against Late Bishop, By Michael Clancy, Arizona Republic , August 22, 2002
Man Seeks Cash from Diocese, By Stephanie Innes, Arizona Daily Star (Tucson), August 24, 2002
Troubled Diocese, By Joseph A. Reaves, Arizona Republic [Phoenix], November 10, 2002
VIEW FROM THE EYE OF THE STORM, By A. W. Richard Sipe, Keynote Address , The Linkup National Conference. Louisville, Kentucky, February 23, 2003
Inheriting a Legacy of Secrecy, Scandal , By Joseph A. Reaves and Kelly Ettenborough , The Arizona Republic [Phoenix AZ] , May 4, 2003
Real Reform Eludes American Catholics, By Lawn Griffiths, East Valley Tribune [Tempe AZ], March 17, 2007 list of U.S. Bishops Accused of Abuse, April 14, 2008
Groups Release Names of Bishops Accused of Abuse, Examiner, April 14, 2008

Priests in a Parish: We use the following convention to show a priest's place among the clergy of a parish: 1/2 means that he is the first priest listed in the Official Catholic Directory (usually the pastor) and that there is a total of two priests at the parish. The shorthand 3/4 means that the priest is listed third on a four-priest roster. See our sample page from the Directory.

Note: The Official Catholic Directory aims to report the whereabouts of Catholic priests in the United States on January 1 of the Directory's publication year. Our working assumption is that a priest listed in the Directory for a given year was at the same assignment for part of the previous year as well. However, Kenedy and Sons will sometimes accept updates well into the year of publication. Diocesan clergy records are rarely available to correct this information. The Directory is also sometimes misleading or wrong. We have tried to create an accurate assignment record, given the source materials and their limitations. Assignment records are a work in progress and we are always improving the records that we post. Please email us with new information and corrections.

This assignment record collates Rausch's career history as it is represented in the Official Catholic Directory with allegations as reported in the media. We make no representation regarding the truth of the allegation we report, and we remind our readers that the U.S. legal system presumes that a person accused of or charged with a crime is innocent until proven guilty. Similarly, individuals who may be defendants in civil actions are presumed not to be liable for such claims unless a plaintiff proves otherwise. Admissions of guilt or liability are not typically a part of civil or private settlements. For more information, see our posting policy.

This assignment record was last updated on Aug. 14, 2012