(Vatican Radio) Cardinal William Henry Keeler, who helped ease tensions between Catholics and Jews and headed the oldest Catholic diocese in the U.S. for 18 years, died on Thursday. He was 86 years old.
Archbishop William Lori announced in a statement that Keeler died at St. Martin's Home for the Aged in Catonsville.
Cardinal Keeler retired in 2007 as the head of the archdiocese of Baltimore.
He devoted much of his clerical life to improving ties with other denominations. From 1992 to 1995, he was president of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. He also served as moderator for Catholic/Jewish Relations and was a member of the Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs.
The President of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston released a statement remembering Cardinal Keeler as someone who "was greatly known for his work as a faith leader in ecumenism and interreligious affairs".
Cardinal DiNardo's statement follows:
This morning, the Lord called home His Eminence William Cardinal Keeler, a servant of priestly virtue and gentlemanly manner.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops remembers his generosity of spirit in service to his brothers and the people of God, especially the Cardinal's time as president from 1992 to 1995. We offer prayers of gratitude for Cardinal Keeler's return to the Lord he so dearly loved.
As a priest, Bishop of Harrisburg, and Archbishop of Baltimore, the Cardinal worked to bring the hope of Christ to people's lives. He also built bridges of solidarity to people of other faiths as a leader in ecumenism and interreligious affairs.
Cardinal Keeler was a dear friend. The most fitting tribute we can offer is to carry forward his episcopal motto in our daily lives: "Do the work of an evangelist."