James Cardinal Hickey, former archbishop of Washington from 1980 to 2000, died yesterday in a local nursing home, run by the Little Sisters of the Poor; he was 84.
Diocesan spokesperson, Susan Gibb said the cardinal’s health had “slowly deteriorated over the past year."
Born Oct. 11, 1920, in Midland, Mich., he was ordained a priest in 1946 at the age of 26. He was appointed archbishop of Washington in 1980 and was elevated to the College of Cardinals in 1988. He was one of 13 Americans in the College of Cardinals.
Cardinal Hickey had a reputation for being a social activist but a conservative on Church issues. He had served immigrants in the Saginaw, Mich., and developed an interest in and special relationship with the church in Central America.
Cardinal Hickey attended the funeral of his friend, assassinated Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero, in 1980. That same year, two of four nuns slain in El Salvador had been under his jurisdiction as bishop of Cleveland.
As archbishop of Washginton, he lobbied Congress to increase aid to the poor and to stop giving aid to the Nicaraguan Contras and to aid the troubled area. He also encouraged his fellow bishops to support nuclear disarmament and oppose increased military spending.
Cardinal Hickey also made headlines when expressed compassion when a priest in his diocese died of AIDS in 1987.
Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, his successor and a friend of more than 40 years, told The Associated Press that Cardinal Hickey's death was a "poignant loss for the church of Washington and a personal loss for me."
"He was a great archbishop and a good and holy priest,” Cardinal McCarrick was quoted as saying. “We will all miss his smile and his wisdom very much," said.