The bishop who presided over Catholics in central Virginia for almost 30 years has died.
Bishop Walter Sullivan was the longest-serving head of the Richmond Roman Catholic Diocese.
The Catholic Virginian reports Sullivan died in Richmond Tuesday. He had been battling liver cancer.
Sullivan was best known as one of the more progressive leaders in the Catholic Church. He sparked controversy by opening his churches to gays and lesbians, condemning wars in Vietnam and the Middle East and speaking out against the death penalty.
In 2003, Sullivan took mandatory retirement at age 75.
Sullivan was 84 years old.
Statement from Governor Bob McDonnell:
Richmond, Va. –Governor Bob McDonnell issued the following statement, following news of the passing of Bishop Walter F. Sullivan.
"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."
Statement from Attorney General Cuccinelli:
Richmond, Va. - Statement from Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli on the passing of Walter F. Sullivan, the retired bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Richmond:
"Bishop Sullivan dedicated his life to God and to the church. During his 50-year career as an active priest and bishop, he became a leader in interfaith dialogue, an advocate for the poor, and a friend to those in prison seeking redemption. My prayers are with his family and all those whose lives he touched."
Statement from former Governor Tim Kaine:
Richmond, VA - Tim Kaine released the following statement on the death of Bishop Walter F. Sullivan, the longtime head of the Catholic Diocese of Richmond:
"Anne and I are saddened to learn of the passing of our dear friend, Bishop Sullivan. Through fifty years of service at the Diocese of Richmond, including nearly thirty at its helm, he was a strong voice and a powerful example for the spirit of service and unity that makes our Commonwealth great. His commitment to those whom society too often ignored was an inspiration to me and many others who were fortunate to cross his path. Today, the City of Richmond and the Commonwealth of Virginia are more welcoming, more inclusive, and stronger communities because of his work. That legacy will live on for many years to come."