08 April 2015, The Tablet

Vatican correspondent Robert Blair Kaiser dies

by Liz Dodd , CNS

Robert Blair Kaiser, whose award-winning coverage of the Second Vatican Council for Time magazine played a significant role in informing Americans about the council, died on 2 April in hospice care in Phoenix in Arizona. He was 84. 

His funeral Mass was to be celebrated on 10 April at St Francis Xavier Church in Phoenix.

Kaiser spent 10 years as a Jesuit seminarian and scholastic, from 1949 to 1959, before leaving the order and turning to journalism.

He was one of those who broke the official secrecy during Vatican II, using his Jesuit ties to cultivate sources who regularly informed him about daily proceedings in the council.

For his coverage, he received the Overseas Press Club's Ed Cunningham Award in 1963 for the "best magazine reporting from abroad." His book Pope, Council and World: The Story of Vatican II was a No 1 best-seller in London and Dublin.

Kaiser later covered religion for The New York Times and CBS-TV News; he covered the election of Pope Francis for Newsweek. He became an internationally recognised commentator and lecturer on the meaning of Vatican II.

An activist with regard to church politics, he pushed for reforms through several organisations, some of which he co-founded, including Catholic Church Reform International and a web community of U.S. Catholics called takebackourchurch.org. He was a board member of Accelerating Catholic Church Reform.

He gave The Tablet lecture in 2012 and told the audience at Heythrop College in London that the Second Vatican Council “changed everything”.

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