Cardinal Keeler was very involved in both interreligious and ecumenical activities, as well as the pro-life movement.
At the USCCB, he served as the moderator for Catholic-Jewish relations as well as the Chair for the Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs between 1984 and 1987. He served on the International Catholic Orthodox Commission for Theological Dialogue, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and the Congregation for the Oriental Churches over the years. He also served twice as the Chair of the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities.
In Baltimore, Cardinal Keeler worked hard to secure funding for at-risk children and youth to attend Catholic schools in the archdiocese. Today, the fund that bears his name has awarded over 16,500 scholarships and has raised more than $70 million dollars in funding.
Other efforts of Cardinal Keeler include his hosting of both Sts. John Paul II and Mother Teresa of Calcutta during their visits to Baltimore, and his efforts to restore the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Sean Caine, spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, told CNA that "the cardinal served the Archdiocese of Baltimore for 18 years," a feat which made him third longest -serving bishop in the historic see. "He did so with great distinction, great clarity of vision and fidelity to the Church."
Caine continued to explain the cardinal's meaning to the city and the deep significance of his leadership over those nearly two decades.
"He was probably best known for his work in interfaith and ecumenical relations, which probably drew him close to Pope St. John Paul II, and that relationship bore particular fruit for the Archdiocese of Baltimore."
During the Holy Father's 1995 visit to Baltimore, the Pope "was the first and only sitting Pope to visit the Archdiocese of Baltimore," Caine explained.
"He was a champion of Catholic education" and helped organize the local Catholic Charities' comprehensive Catholic social services program, the Our Daily Bread Employment Center, Caine added. "It really is the cornerstone of Catholic Charities here in Baltimore."
Archbishop Lori expressed that the city will feel the impact of Cardinal Keeler's loss.
"Cardinal Keeler will be greatly missed," Archbishop Lori wrote. "I am grateful to the Little Sisters for their devoted care for the Cardinal. May his noble priestly soul rest in peace!"
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The Archdiocese of Baltimore asks that, in lieu of flowers, well-wishers make contributions to the Cardinal William H. Keeler Endowment Fund of the Catholic Community Foundation.