LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Recognizing the tremendous growth happening in Clark County, Pope Francis has elevated the Diocese of Las Vegas to Archdiocese.

The appointment creates the 34th archdiocese in the United States.

Pope John Paul II established the Las Vegas diocese in 1995. But due to a growth in population and parishioners, mostly driven by Hispanics and Filipinos, the Archdiocese of Las Vegas was created on Tuesday. 

“We are getting an influx. Our parishes are very active, two of our parishes now have 40,000 registered parishioners. Some 9 and 10 masses, some of our masses are standing room only,” Archbishop George Thomas said.

Archbishop Thomas has been in Las Vegas for the past five years. He said the last time any pope elevated a diocese to an archdiocese in the United States was in 2004.

What this elevation means is that the dioceses of Reno and Salt Lake City will now fall under the control of the Archdiocese of Las Vegas.

Las Vegas was previously under the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

“This creation by Pope Francis is a reflection of the tremendous growth in Las Vegas in many ways,” Auxiliary Bishop Gregory Gordon said.

A Pew Research survey done in 2021 shows more Americans are choosing not to identify as religious, with only 21% of adults identifying as Catholic.

Archbishop Thomas said there is a strong faith in Las Vegas despite its moniker as the City of Sin.

“This is a very strong faith-filled family-oriented community, and I honestly believe that it is in direct reaction to the carnality and secularity of the strip,” Archbishop Thomas said.

Thomas will travel to the Vatican to meet with Pope Francis on June 29. On October 2, there will be a large ceremony in Las Vegas when the ‘Ambassador of the Holy See’ visits.

No pope has ever visited Las Vegas. However, Pope Benedict XVI did visit Nevada before becoming the pontiff.