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Walter Sullivan, former Richmond bishop, dies

Tuesday - 12/11/2012, 7:42pm  ET

RICHMOND, Va. - Former Bishop Walter F. Sullivan, the longest-serving head of the Richmond Roman Catholic diocese, has died. He was 84.

The Catholic Virginian assistant editor Judy Lindfors says Sullivan died in Richmond on Tuesday. He had been diagnosed with liver cancer.

Sullivan spent the majority of his life serving the church, 29 years as bishop of the sprawling Richmond diocese and 21 years before that as a priest.

The 11th bishop to head the Richmond diocese, Sullivan was best known as one of the more progressive leaders in the Catholic church. He sparked controversy by opening his churches to gays and lesbians, condemning wars in Vietnam and the Middle East and speaking out against the death penalty.

Sullivan took mandatory retirement at 75 in 2003.

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