Archbishop Flynn
Archbishop Flynn

St. Paul, Minn. — Retired Archbishop Harry J. Flynn of St. Paul and Minneapolis died Sept. 22 in St. Paul. He was 86.
A Schenectady native, Archbishop Flynn was a graduate of Siena College and was ordained for the Diocese of Albany in 1960. He was former pastor of St. Ambrose in Latham.

Funeral arrangements were pending as The Evangelist went to press.

Prolific storyteller, ardent battler of racism, in his leadership of a seminary and two widely distant and different dioceses, he came to embody a genial combination of East Coast graciousness, Southern hospitality and Midwestern progressive populism.

In addition to serving in the Diocese of Albany, he was rector of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, was bishop of the Diocese of Lafayette in Louisiana, and archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

In 2002, he served as chair of what was then the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee on Sexual Abuse, which developed the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” in response to the clergy sexual abuse crisis that rocked the Catholic Church across the country.

Archbishop Flynn received wide praise for his work as head of the ad hoc committee. He took a particularly strong stand in favor of the bishops’ “zero tolerance” policy under which any priest who admitted or was proven to have committed at least one act of child sex abuse would be removed from all ministry.

After his retirement, however, questions were raised by some about whether he did enough in the Diocese of Lafayette and in the Twin Cities to investigate clergy sexual abuse allegations.

He retired May 2, 2008, after serving as archbishop in the Twin Cities and surrounding counties for 13 years. Until his ministry was curtailed by failing eyesight and his battle in recent years with cancer, he continued to assist in the archdiocese with confirmations and liturgies. He also led retreats across the country.