A priest, Keeler was the Archbishop of Baltimore, the oldest diocese in the U.S. Keeler was particularly interested in improving relations between the church and Jews, Muslims, and the Greek Orthodox, helping arrange meetings between the pope and other religious leaders. “He came from the pioneering generation of post-1965 Catholic leaders,” says Rabbi James Rudin of the American Jewish Committee. “There has been more positive done in Catholic-Jewish relations in the last 50 years than in the first 1,900, and Cardinal Keeler was the chief architect of that.” Being close to Boston, Keeler reacted strongly to the Boston Globe’s explosive revelations that hundreds of priests had not only molested children, but had been protected by the church, keeping them from legal prosecution. Keeler complained the newspaper had created a “feeding frenzy” of sensationalist news, but when he realized the newspaper’s reports were accurate, he embraced the truth. He was the first bishop to expose “priests who had been credibly accused of child abuse” by listing 57 names on the diocese website, and clearly detailing how $5.6 million in settlement money was spent. Other bishops soon followed his example, creating remarkable transparency. In 1994, Fr. Keeler was appointed a cardinal by Pope John Paul II. He retired at 76, and died on March 23 at St. Martin’s Home for the Aged in Catonsville, Md. He was 86.
From This is True for 26 March 2017