SAN FRANCISCO — Retired Archbishop John R. Quinn of San Francisco, who led the Northern California archdiocese for 18 years, died June 22 after a long illness. He was 88.
Funeral arrangements were pending.
Archbishop Quinn was the sixth archbishop of San Francisco, serving from April 26, 1977, until his retirement Dec. 27, 1995. He was president of what is now the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops from 1977 to 1980.
Born March 28, 1929, in Riverside, Calif., he was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of San Diego July 19, 1953. Blessed Paul VI named him an auxiliary bishop of San Diego in 1967.
In 1971, he was appointed bishop of Oklahoma City-Tulsa. When the diocese was split to form the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City and the Diocese of Tulsa Dec. 13, 1972, then-Bishop Quinn became the first archbishop of Oklahoma City.
Archbishop Quinn was one of the most influential members of the hierarchy when he was an active bishop. Ordained at 38, he became archbishop of Oklahoma City five years later. He served in that capacity for five years, then was appointed to head the San Francisco Archdiocese in 1977.
There, he served until age 66, having asked St. John Paul II if the pope could appoint a coadjutor bishop so that he could retire early; the mandatory age at which a bishop is required by canon law to submit his resignation is 75. "I have served as a bishop for almost 30 years," he said in his retirement in 1995. "In these turbulent times no corporate CEO or university president remains under the pressure of office anywhere near that time."
He was the first bishop from the West to serve as president of the U.S. bishops' conference. In the late 1980s, he was chairman of the bishops' old Committee on Pastoral Research and Practices, and in the mid-1990s, he served as chair of their doctrine committee.
A theology professor and seminary rector before he became a bishop, Archbishop Quinn maintained a keen interest in theological and ecclesial matters, and was able to pursue this interest in greater earnest after his retirement.
Archbishop Quinn was an early leader in combating clerical sexual abuse. The Archdiocese of San Francisco put into force in 1992 a sexual abuse and harassment policy, and at that time urged all victims of child sexual abuse by a priest or Church worker to "come forward and tell us their story."
Archbishop Quinn also was a staunch defender of immigrants and immigration. In 1994, shortly after California's controversial Proposition 187 was approved by voters, he issued a pastoral letter in which he lamented the growing hardness of heart toward immigrants, which he called "appalling and so profoundly in conflict with the Gospel," saying it was behind a wave of blaming immigrants for economic and social problems. The proposition, which was found unconstitutional by a federal court, barred anyone who is in the country illegally from receiving any tax-supported benefits except emergency medical care.