Services Held For Chicago Priest, Novelist Greeley

The Mass, celebrated by Cardinal Francis George, was held at noon at Christ the King Church

A funeral was held Wednesday on Chicago's South Side for the Rev. Andrew Greeley, an outspoken Roman Catholic priest and best-selling author.

The Mass, celebrated by Cardinal Francis George, was held at noon at Christ the King Church.

Geeley died at his Chicago home last week. He was 85.

The prolific priest, sociologist and long-time NBC analyst who wrote best-selling novels and a weekly newspaper column was remembered as a genuine Chicagoan and a dedicated servant of the church with a prophetic voice.

"Our hearts are heavy with grief," his family said in a statement, "but we find hope in the promise of Heaven that our uncle spent his life proclaiming to us, his friends, his parishioners and his many fans. He resides now with the Lord of the Dance, and that dance will go on."

Greeley was also known for his conviction. During the priest sex abuse crisis as early as 1991, he was one of the very few priests who criticized the church leadership for refusing to disclose priest accusations.

In 2010, Greeley released a study based on a poll of more than 500 Illinois Catholics that found their faith is still burning brightly with 78 percent of respondents saying Catholicism is either “extremely important” or “very important” in their lives.

While Greeley had an uneasy relationship with Cardinal John Cody and Joseph Bernardin, Cardinal Francis George reached out to him and they attended the opera together. Greeley lived in the John Hancock building but also had homes in Grand Beach Michigan and Arizona. His Saturday afternoon Mass in Grand Beach was often filled with sun bathers who came in their beach attire.

Greeley was involved in an accident in November 2008

from which he never fully recovered. His jacket got caught in a cab door, and as the vehicle pulled away, the priest fell to the ground and hit his head, fracturing his skull. The fracture left him in critical condition.

Before the incident, Greeley had lectured at the Religious Education Association conference in Rosemont and was described by the association executive secretary as "very generous and very funny."

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