Archbishop Raymond G. Hunthausen

Retired Archbishop Raymond G. Hunthausen of Seattle, pictured in an undated photo, died July 22 at his home in Helena, Mont. The 96-year-old archbishop was with family when he died, according to a news release from the Archdiocese of Seattle. (CNS photo/courtesy Archdiocese of Seattle)

Archbishop Raymond G. Hunthausen, who attended the Second Vatican Council, became a pioneer in the ecumenical movement and then later offered a pacifist voice against war and the production of nuclear weapons, died July 22 at home in Helena, Mont.

The 96-year-old retired archbishop of Seattle, Wash., was with family when he died, according to a press release from the Archdiocese of Seattle.

Archbishop Hunthausen had fans and critics alike, who took varying views of his often-controversial stances on nuclear disarmament, broader roles for women in the church and outreach ministry to gays and lesbians.

He was the last living American bishop who participated in all four sessions of the council, which convened from 1962 to 1965. He attended the first session of the council within weeks of his Aug. 30, 1962, episcopal ordination as bishop of Helena and as the youngest American prelate.

In remarks at an interfaith service at St. James Cathedral in Seattle marking his retirement in 1991, he said the council was “a watershed moment in my life.”

At the council’s close, he said, he felt “born again” into the life of the Church.

“What happened at Vatican II resonated deeply with me, with my prayers and hopes for a church with a vision and a mission of transforming our lives,” he said.

Eleven years later at a Seattle symposium marking the council’s 40th anniversary, Archbishop Hunthausen recalled being overwhelmed when arriving for the council, but that he quickly embraced the reforms that emerged. Being able to share perspectives throughout his ministry with church leaders of other denominations became one of the most treasured moments of his life.

By praying and discussing his faith with other religious leaders, he said, he realized “we’re all looking for ways to get to God.”