With Carmel, Indy under different leaders, rumors recur
CARMEL, INDIANA – Indianapolis’ Catholic archdiocese is a sprawling territory that stretches across Central Indiana — from the borders with Illinois and Ohio — and as far south as the Ohio River.
Yet if you drive into Hamilton County, less than 10 miles north of the archbishop’s office in Downtown Indianapolis, you cross the northern edge of the archdiocese and enter the realm of the bishop of Lafayette.
This geographical quirk — that parishes in Indianapolis’ northern suburbs answer to a bishop 70 miles away — is a remnant of Catholic boundaries drawn in the 1940s, when Hamilton County was nothing but farmland.
Now the county is home to burgeoning parishes that could add thriving churches to an Indianapolis archdiocese whose greatest recent growth has come from immigrant Hispanic populations filling empty pews in older urban parishes.
Those diocesan boundaries are key in other ways, too, determining who has the power to appoint priests or has a hand in running diocesan schools.
Rumors that the Vatican might redraw the lines, or even dissolve the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana in favor of an even bigger Archdiocese of Indianapolis, have been circulating for 25 years, said Marian College theology professor Andy Hohman.
Lately, though, the rumors have had a renewed vigor.