BREAKING: Former Bishop Walter Sullivan Passes AwayCatch-All

Bishop Walter Sullivan (1938-2012)

Reports are coming in that former Catholic Bishop Walter Sullivan, who headed up the Catholic Diocese of Richmond from 1974 to 2003, passed away this afternoon.

DEVELOPING… 

UPDATE:  Confirmation via Wikipedia.  Bishop Walter Sullivan died at the age of 84 from complications with liver cancer.

From an article about Bishop Sullivan after his retirement in 2006:

Like many a retiree, Sullivan has found more freedom to travel. He took a cruise to Alaska last year, and looks forward to a Scandinavian cruise a few months from now when Virginia’s summer is at its torrid peak.

He’s reaped a few laurels. Virginia Commonwealth University established the Bishop Walter F. Sullivan Chair in Catholic Studies last fall, and in September, Sullivan was honored by the Virginia Holocaust Museum, which was founded with his help as bishop of Richmond.

Sullivan is still a member of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, though as a retired bishop he has no vote. He is president of the board of the Churches’ Center for Theology and Public Policy, an independ
ent ecumenical group that is promoting Christian-Muslim dialogue.

The bishop has kept his house in Sandbridge in Virginia Beach, though he missed much of last year’s beach season because of major surgery in July.

“That slowed me up a bit, but I’m feeling well, keeping active,” he said.

Bishop Sullivan was at one time the president of Pax Christi USA.  Neither the Catholic Diocese of Richmond, the Virginia Catholic Conference, nor Pax Christi USA have issued a statement thus far.

UPDATE x2:  Statement from the Most Reverend Francis DiLorenzo:

It is with profound sadness that I inform you that Bishop Walter F. Sullivan, 11th Bishop of Richmond, passed into eternal life on Tuesday, December 11th at his home here in Richmond late this afternoon.  Bishop Sullivan had been seriously ill for just over two weeks and it was his intention to spend his last days at home in hospice care.  I ask for your prayers for the repose of his soul and for the consolation of his beloved family and dear friends.

Funeral arrangements are pending at this time.  I will share the details of the funeral as soon as possible.

Word is still trickling out to friends and family at this time.

Sullivan’s impact on Virginia’s Catholics was tangible and direct, as Virginia’s Catholic bishops have had a tendency to be.

UPDATE x3:  Governor McDonnell is such a class act, folks…

Bishop Sullivan was a man of tremendous faith with a true servant’s heart. He led the Catholic Diocese of Richmond for 29 years, touching many lives and always finding ways to bridge differences in his community and around the nation. Having visited with him many times I admired his love of life and passion to protect it, and his enthusiastic ministry to and advocacy for the poor. In this tough time, our thoughts and prayers are with his family and with the many, many individuals who knew him as a friend and mentor. Bishop Sullivan will be dearly missed.

Well done.

  • David C.F. Ray

    May God have mercy on his soul.

  • MD Russ

    RIP to Bishop Sullivan.

    Quite frankly, Shaun, I am surprised that you would take note of Bishop Sullivan. He was one of the most liberal bishops in the country in his time, promoting outreach programs to gays and advocating for increased roles for women in the Church, including ordination. His successor, Bishop DiLorenzo, has spent the past few years largely dismantling Sullivan’s reforms. Too bad, because reform voices like that of Sullivan were the best hope for saving the American Catholic Church from decline.

    • http://www.facebook.com/shaunkenney Shaun Kenney

      A friend of mine put it best: Bishop Sullivan was a liberal in the truest sense… he allowed everything, from the Tridentine Mass all the way to liturgical dancers. He was a bishop of the Catholic Church and deserves to be respected as such.