“Whether as a man of peace, a deliverer of mercy, or a taker of risks, Walter Sullivan has kept faith both with the teachings of Christ and the demands of civic justice.”—Colman McCarthy
“Bishop Sullivan was a model bishop and peacemaker, and I was grateful to have known him. What would the church look like with more bishops like Walter Sullivan? The Good Bishop is a guidebook for a church that models Jesus’ love for for the poor and for all the people of God.”—Martin Sheen
“There could be no better title for this book. That’s exactly who Walter Sullivan was: a good bishop. Not because he exercised juridical power in the church but because he showed us what the love of Christ looks like, feels like
incarnate. He visited prisoners, celebrated Mass with the elderly, embraced gays, championed those sentenced to be killed by the state and worked boldly to end the death penalty and the spread of nuclear armaments. Maybe, best of all, he was humble, treated us all like brothers and sisters, and was always eager to learn. May his tribe increase!”—Sister Helen Prejean, CSJ
Walter F. Sullivan retired in 2003 after twenty-nine years as bishop of the Richmond, Virginia diocese. One of a generation of bishops appointed by Pope Paul VI, Sullivan became famous for his pastoral leadership, and in the 1980s he acquired a national reputation as one of the leading “peace bishops,” standing up against the climate of cold war and warning against the global nuclear threat—not the most popular of positions. As Sullivan himself notes, “I am a loyal son of the church. It is my home, but I am not a company man.”
Guiding his flock through the tumultuous post-Vatican II years, Bishop Sullivan brought a human touch to his role, crossing boundaries to foster a spirit of ecumenism, encouraging the gifts of the laity, and reaching out especially to prisoners and those on the margins. Yet, Sullivan also struggled as many of his brother bishops did in dealing straightforwardly with the clergy sexual abuse crisis.
In this biography by renowned author Phyllis Theroux, Bishop Sullivan emerges as a complex human being, one who has tried faithfully to lead the church with integrity, compassion, and love.