Statement on the death of Cardinal William H. Keeler from Archbishop Lori

25 March, 2017, 00:08 | Author: Gregory Stephens
  • Cardinal Keeler's casket is carried into the Baltimore Basilica

Keeler passed early Thursday at St. Martin's Home for the Aged in Catonsville. No cause of death was released.

Cardinal Keeler retired in 2007 as the head of the archdiocese of Baltimore.

Then-Archbishop Keeler was elected president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops in 1992.

At the USCCB, he served as the moderator for Catholic-Jewish relations as well as the Chair for the Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs between 1984 and 1987.

"He loved history and especially the history of the Catholic church in the United States", Jarboe said of Keeler.

Keeler was a priest for 37 years and served as an expert adviser to Pope John XXIII at the reforming Second Vatican Council of 1962-65.

Keeler was appointed the Bishop of the Diocese of Harrisburg in 1983, where he served until 1989 when he was appointed Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

Third Archbishop of Baltimore to be named to the College of Cardinals (1994, Gibbons, Shehan). "I thank God for his priestly life and ministry and for his inspiring service to all".

"In terms of a mission, one thing we ought to be pretty clear on is that the western world is one united by television", Keeler said. She married Thomas Love Keeler, a steel-casting salesman, in 1930 and the couple had five children. He attended St. Charles Seminary at Overbrook in Philadelphia, where he received a bachelor's degree in 1952.


Ordained on July 17, 1955, Keeler served several years as pastor at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Marysville, Md.

Cardinal Keeler was an ardent promoter of the Catholic Church's teaching on the sanctity of all human life.

"He was probably best known for his work in interfaith and ecumenical relations, which probably drew him close to Pope St. John Paul II, and that relationship bore particular fruit for the Archdiocese of Baltimore".

Keeler may be in part remembered for his testimony in the case of Dontee Stokes, who was charged in the 2002 shooting death Rev. Maurice Blackwell, whom Stokes accused of sexual abuse in 1993. After more than two years of construction, the building was rededicated November 4, 2006 - 200 years after the basilica's cornerstone was laid.

In October 2006, Cardinal Keeler was seriously injured in a vehicle accident in Terni, Italy, in which the Cardinal's friend, Fr. Bernard Quinn of the Diocese of Harrisburg, was killed.

For example, during Keeler's time as archbishop, the Archdiocese of Baltimore developed a sister relationship with a diocese in Haiti, Jarboe said.

Among the many accomplishments of Cardinal Keeler during his tenure as Archbishop of Baltimore were the historic 1995 visit of Pope John Paul II to Baltimore and his leadership of the restoration of America's First Cathedral, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore. The pope led a Mass for 50,000 people at the Baltimore Orioles' stadium.

"When I would visit the cardinal at the Little Sisters of the Poor (in Cardinal Keeler's retirement), I gave him a report on my stewardship and told him many times that we were striving to build upon his legacy - a legacy that greatly strengthened the church and the wider community", Archbishop Lori said.

When faced with having to close or consolidate services at Baltimore churches, Keeler looked at the situation positively.

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