Archbishop William E. Lori announced this morning that Cardinal William H. Keeler, 14th Archbishop of Baltimore, died early this morning at St. Martin’s Home for the Aged in Cantonsville, MD. He was 86.

Cardinal Keeler was born in San Antonio, Texas in 1931 and was raised in Lebanon, Pennsylvania. He attended St. Charles Seminary in Philadelphia and was the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, and was ordained to the Catholic priesthood July 17, 1955, in the Church of the Holy Apostles, Rome.

He was ordained an Auxiliary Bishop for the Diocese of Harrisburg on September 21, 1979 and installed as the Bishop of Harrisburg on January 4, 1984. Bishop Keeler was appointed 14th Archbishop of Baltimore in 1989, succeeding Archbishop William D. Borders. Pope John Paul II appointed Archbishop Keeler to the College of Cardinals in November 1994.

Cardinal Keeler was elected President of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, now the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), in 1992, after having served as the organization’s Vice President the previous three years.

An Ardent promoter of the Church’s teaching on the sanctity of all human life, Cardinal Keeler twice served as Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee for Pro-Life Activities and testified at all levels of government on legislation ranging from abortion to euthanasia to capital punishment.

Among the many accomplishment of Cardinal Keeler during his tenure as Archbishop of Baltimore were the historic 1995 visit of Pope John Paul II to Baltimore and his leadership of the restoration of America’s First Cathedral, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore.

In 2005, following the death of Pope John Paul II, Cardinal Keeler participated int he Papal Conclave which resulted in the election of Pope Benedict XVI, making him the second Archbishop of Baltimore to participate in a Conclave (Gibbons).

The Cardinal is survived by his sister, Julia Keeler, of Toronto, Canada.

Funeral arrangements will be announced once they have been finalized.

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