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WASHINGTON (December 28, 2001) -- Cardinal William H. Keeler, Episcopal Moderator for Catholic-Jewish Relations, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), issued a statement of tribute to the life and accomplishments of Msgr. Bryan O. Walsh, former director of Catholic Community Services for the Archdiocese of Miami.
Msgr. Walsh, 71, died of cardiac arrest Dec. 20. The Irish-born priest was a leading figure in the resettlement of refugees from Cuba and Haiti. He was also an advisor to the Catholic Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs and played a key role in preparations for Pope John Paul II's meeting with Jewish leaders in Miami in 1987.
This is the text of the statement by Cardinal Keeler:
"Msgr. Bryan Walsh, one of the leading Catholic social action priests of his generation, died peacefully in the Lord, as he lived. Msgr. Walsh played a significant role in Catholic-Jewish relations in this country, not only in Florida, where he was the key figure for decades, but nationally as an active member of our Advisory Committee. In Msgr. Walsh's death I mourn the passing of a good friend whom I have known from the days of the Second Vatican Council, when he served in Rome with Archbishop Colman Carroll of Miami. He was a first-hand witness of the Council's historic work in preparing Nostra Aetate, which has guided Catholics into a new and positive relationship with the Jewish people.
Msgr. Walsh's close working relationship with the Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs began in 1987 in the heat of the controversy surrounding the meeting between Pope John Paul II and national Jewish leaders in Miami. His advice and behind the scenes efforts were a central part of the work that went into making the papal meeting with Jewish leaders not only constructive but historic for Catholic-Jewish relations in this country. Out of that meeting, for example, came the continuing dialogue with the National Council of Synagogues, and ideas for our ongoing work with Jewish agencies such as the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee. We shall miss his deep laugh, his gentle wit, and his penetrating insights. Above all, we shall miss the love and commitment of a great priest who was a friend to us all. We are grateful for the great gifts he brought to bear over the years on healing the wounds of 2000 years of Catholic-Jewish relations, and know that he is with God, having a good chuckle at our foibles and still offering his behind the scenes support for our work for the Church. May his memory be for all of us a blessing."
Dr. Eugene Fisher, Associate Director, USCCB Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, said: "While we mourn the loss of a friend and great pioneer in Catholic-Jewish relations, we are grateful to God for the gifts of wisdom and courage Msgr. Walsh gave so abundantly to all humanity."
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