Former Seattle Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen dies at 96

SEATTLE (AP) — Retired Seattle Archbishop Raymond G. Hunthausen, whose outspoken support for nuclear disarmament, gay rights and an expanded role for women in the church made him one of the most controversial U.S. bishops, has died at 96.

Hunthausen died Sunday at his home in Helena, Mont., the Seattle Archdiocese said.

Hunthausen, who was born in Montana, served as the bishop of Helena from 1962 to 1975 and as archbishop of Seattle from 1975 to 1991. He was the last living American bishop to have participated in all four sessions of the Second Vatican Council, called by the pope in the early 1960s to modernize the church, the archdiocese said.

"He was someone who through his example, a lot of people really saw that there was a place in the church for them," his nephew, Denny Hunthausen, told The Seattle Times today. "The messaging we're seeing from Pope Francis now was something he was doing 20, 30 years ago: the message of love and mercy."

Hunthausen led protests near a base for nuclear-armed Trident submarines at Bangor, Wash.. He withheld half his federal income tax in the early 1980s in protest of nuclear weapon stockpiling, and he urged others to do the same. The IRS garnished his wages.

Critics accused him of deviating from Catholic doctrine by allowing a group for gay Catholics to celebrate Mass at Seattle's Saint James Cathedral; by allowing divorced or remarried Catholics to receive the sacraments; and by permitting Catholic hospitals to perform contraceptive sterilizations.

A Vatican investigation led to the appointment in 1985 of an auxiliary bishop who took over many administrative functions. Hunthausen's authority was largely restored two years later.

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