RICHMOND -- Bishop Walter F. Sullivan, who was the longest-serving leader of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Richmond, has died. He was 84.

The Catholic Virginian assistant editor Judy Lindfors says Sullivan died in Richmond on Tuesday. He had been diagnosed with liver cancer.

Sullivan spent the majority of his life serving the church, 29 years as head of the sprawling Richmond Diocese and 21 years before that as a priest.

The 11th bishop to head the Richmond Diocese, Sullivan was best known as one of the more progressive leaders in the Catholic church. He sparked controversy by opening his churches to gays and lesbians, condemning wars in Vietnam and the Middle East and speaking out against the death penalty.

Sullivan took mandatory retirement at 75 in 2003.

Sullivan will lie in state starting at 2:00 p.m. Tuesday at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart Church in Richmond. An ecumenical service will be held that evening. The next day, Dec. 19, a funeral Mass will be held at 10:30 a.m. in the cathedral.

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