Seattle Archbishop Emeritus Raymond G. Hunthausen was laid to rest on August 1 following a Funeral Mass in Helena, Montana and a standing-room-only Mass of Christian Burial at St. James Cathedral in Seattle. As he began his homily, Father Michael G. Ryan, Pastor of St. James Cathedral and a longtime friend and confidant to the Archbishop, noted that some people had told him not to expect a large crowd, since the Archbishop retired nearly thirty years ago. He remarked: “Oh ye of little faith.”
Continuing with his homily, Father Ryan noted: “This is not going to be your usual funeral homily, but Archbishop Hunthausen was not your usual bishop, was he? And I know a homily is supposed to break open the scriptures and shed light on them. But Archbishop Hunthausen’s very life was a homily on those scriptures. His life was a courageous prophecy. His life was a Gospel. He put a human face on each of those Beatitudes we just heard.”
Among the many tributes paid to Archbishop Hunthausen after his passing, Father William Heric of Seattle commented: “He brought the best spirit of the Second Vatican Council into the church in Western Washington. He made Vatican II come to life.” Father Heric added that Hunthausen’s passing was “the end of an era” because he was the last living American bishop to have participated in all four sessions of the Second Vatican Council. Archbishop Hunthausen was credited by the Priests who served with him for bringing the council’s documents to life.
Revered as an outspoken advocate for the poor and the marginalized, Archbishop Hunthausen was also a great advocate for women and their role in Church and society, as well as for women religious. So deeply was he committed to the Church’s ecumenical mission that many clergy of other denominations referred to him as “their bishop.”
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