NEW YORK – Long before Pope Francis made headlines for efforts to expand women’s leadership in the Church, show greater openness to the LGBT community and emphasize local Church governance, Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen made a name for himself doing just that in Seattle.
Hunthausen, who died last July at the age of 96, served as Seattle’s archbishop from 1975 until 1991 – a tumultuous period that would lead to a Vatican investigation and the appointment of then-Bishop Donald Wuerl as an auxiliary, vested with certain governing powers.
While the Vatican placed Hunthausen under investigation for matters related to liturgy and doctrine, he had garnered a reputation for his calls for unilateral nuclear disarmament at the height of the Cold War – a position that put him at odds with President Ronald Reagan. Some have speculated that Reagan’s close relationship with Pope John Paul II motivated the Vatican’s crackdown against Hunthausen.
In his new biography, A Disarming Spirit: The Life of Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen, Frank Fromherz explores that history and analyzes what made Hunthausen one of the most storied churchmen of the 20th century.
In the interview, the author answers questions like:
- Why did Hunthausen insist that you wait until after his death to publish this biography?
- What affect did this [Hunthausen’s religiously motivated opposition to nuclear weapons] have on people of faith in the region?
- Was [Hunthausen’s] investigation by the Vatican fueled by the Reagan administration?