The Reverend Andrew Greeley, who was an outspoken Roman Catholic priest, best-selling author and newspaper columnist who criticised the hierarchy of his own church over the child sex-abuse scandal, has died aged 85.
Greeley was the author of more than 50 bestselling novels, and dozens of nonfiction works. He wrote a weekly column that appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times and other newspapers on the relationship between religion and politics, and contributed to the New York Times, National Catholic Reporter and other publications.
Greeley, who was born in Oak Park, Illinois. became a priest in the spring of 1954. He published his final book, Chicago Catholics and the Struggles Within Their Church, in 2010. It was a topic he had explored for years, sometimes giving him a reputation for generating controversy in the church.
"Sometimes I think that we as priests and bishops have done everything we possibly could to drive away the laity during the last 20 years," Greeley wrote in his book Catholic Contributions: Sociology and Policy (1987).
"The sexually maladjusted priest has been able to abuse the children of the laity and thus far be reasonably secure from punishment," Greeley told a lay Catholic group in 1992.
During a news conference in 1987, Greeley said that if he were heading a church fundraising campaign, he would admit to church members that "we've really goofed. People are resentful over what they take to be the insensitivity of church leaders – particularly on matters relating to sex." On his website Greeley described himself as having "unflinchingly urged his beloved church to become more responsive to evolving concerns of Catholics everywhere."
Greeley was a sociology professor at the University of Arizona and a researcher at the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. He earned post-graduate degrees from the University of Chicago in the 1960s.