William Henry Keeler bigraphy, stories - Catholic cardinal

William Henry Keeler : biography

March 4, 1931 -

William Henry Keeler (born March 4, 1931) is an American Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Archbishop of Baltimore from 1989 to 2007 and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1994.

Pope Benedict XVI accepted Cardinal Keeler's resignation on July 12, 2007 when it was announced that Edwin O'Brien had been appointed to succeed Keeler as Archbishop of Baltimore.

Episcopal succession

Cardinal

Keeler was created Cardinal-Priest of Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri by Pope John Paul II in the consistory of November 26, 1994. He was appointed to the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity in the summer of 1994 and to the Congregation for the Oriental Churches in November 1994. From 1998 to 2001 and again since November 2003, he has served as Chair for the Committee on Pro-Life Activities. Keeler was one of the cardinal electors who participated in the 2005 papal conclave. Cardinal Keeler reached age 80 on March 4, 2011, and lost the eligibility to participate in any future papal conclaves.

One of Keeler's priorities was the strengthening of the Catholic school system. In 1992, he initiated the Lenten Appeal, a giving campaign that has raised over $44 million in support of Baltimore's Catholic schools, the needs of the less fortunate, and a variety of spiritual development efforts and the Cardinal's Partners in Excellence scholarship program has raised $16 million in tuition assistance for at-risk children.

The Cardinal was also responsible for the effort to restore Baltimore's Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, America's first cathedral, the cost of which was financed entirely through private donations.

Keeler is the President of the American Division Catholic Near East Welfare Association and Chair of the Black and Native American Missions Board. He is Chairman of the Board of Catholic Charities, the largest non-governmental agency providing assistance to the needy of Maryland. He is president of the Cathedral Foundation and publisher of The Catholic Review.

Views

Embryonic stem cell research

As chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Committee for Pro-life Activities, he criticized Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's announcement that he will support federally funded stem cell research that requires destroying human embryos.

Ecumenism

At the annual general assembly of the National Council of Churches, he reassured delegates that the Roman Catholic Church, and the Pope, were firmly ecumenical.

Terri Schiavo

Cardinal Keeler mourned the death of Terri Schiavo, who had died after a controversial legal battle over the right for her relatives to remove her feeding tube.

Early life and ministry

Cardinal Keeler was born in San Antonio, Texas, to Thomas and Margaret (née Conway) Keeler. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Lebanon, Pennsylvania where Keeler attended St. Mary School and Lebanon Catholic High School. He was a member of the Boy Scouts of America and achieved the rank of Eagle Scout.

Keeler received a BA from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, in 1952. While studying at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, he was ordained to the priesthood on July 17, 1955 by Archbishop Luigi Traglia.

He received both a Licentiate of Sacred Theology (1956) and Doctorate of Canon Law (1961) from the Gregorian, and after doing pastoral and curial work in the Diocese of Harrisburg, he served as a peritus, or expert, and secretary to Bishop George Leech at the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965).

Keeler was raised to the rank of Chaplain of His Holiness on November 9, 1965, and later Honorary Prelate of His Holiness on May 8, 1970.

Honors and awards

An Eagle Scout, Keeler is a recipient of the Silver Beaver, Silver Antelope, and Distinguished Eagle Scout Award of the Boy Scouts of America.

He holds honorary degrees from Lebanon Valley College, Gettysburg College, Susquehanna University, and Gannon University.

Bishop

On July 24, 1979, Keeler was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Harrisburg and Titular Bishop of Ulcinium. He received his episcopal consecration on the following September 21 from Bishop Joseph Daley, with Bishops Francis Gossman and Martin Lohmuller serving as co-consecrators. Keeler took as his episcopal motto: Opus Fac Evangeliste ("Do the Work of an Evangelist"). He was named the seventh Bishop of Harrisburg on November 10, 1983, and then the fourteenth Metropolitan Archbishop of Baltimore on April 11, 1989. As Archbishop of Baltimore, Keeler was head of America's oldest see and de facto Primate.

He was elected President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in November 1992. He had been elected as the organization's Vice President in November 1989, when hosting Baltimore's bicentennial celebration of the founding of the diocese. He also serves as Chairman of the Maryland Catholic Conference, Chair of the Board and Chancellor of St. Mary's Seminary and University in Baltimore, as well as of Mount Saint Mary's University.

While president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Archbishop Keeler chaired the 1993 World Youth Day held in Denver, Colorado.

Keeler developed a reputation for effectively building interfaith bonds, particularly for furthering Catholic-Jewish dialogue and serves as moderator of Catholic-Jewish Relations for the USCCB. As Chair of the U.S. Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs from 1984 to 1987, he helped arrange the Pope's meetings with Jewish leaders in Miami and with Protestant leaders in Columbia, South Carolina.

Living octopus

Living octopus

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