Monday, October 09, 2006

Keeler in Italy Crash; Passenger Dead

Reports were received here last night of a car accident involving Cardinal William Keeler of Baltimore.

Parishioners of affected Lancaster parish were notified yesterday.... Baltimore confirms:
Cardinal William H. Keeler was injured in a car accident Saturday that killed another priest while vacationing about 60 miles outside of Rome, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Baltimore said.

A car struck the passenger side of their vehicle as they drove through the city of Terni, archdiocese spokesman Sean Caine said.

Fr. Bernard Quinn, 78, a retired priest from the Diocese of Harrisburg, was riding in the back seat and was killed in the crash, Caine said. Both the driver, Msgr. Thomas Smith, 75, pastor of St. Joseph parish in Lancaster, Pa., and Keeler, 75, who was in the passenger seat, were injured, Caine said.

Keeler, who suffered a broken ankle, and Smith, who broke several ribs, remain hospitalized, Caine said. The cardinal was due to return to Baltimore later this week.
SVILUPPO (1.20pm): A 2pm joint press conference will be held at Hunt Valley, Maryland, where the priests of the Diocese of Harrisburg are spending this week on their annual retreat. Bishops Kevin Rhoades of Harrisburg and Baltimore Auxiliary Francis Malooly -- Keeler proteges both -- will meet with reporters. Keeler called Rhoades yesterday morning from a Terni hospital to inform him of the events, requesting that Msgr Smith's parish be told.

Word from Baltimore is that, given the difficult circumstances, the cardinal's coping "very well." He and the two priests of his home diocese -- which he previously served as an auxiliary and its seventh bishop -- have vacationed together for decades, and Keeler is already mobile enough to have wheeled up to Smith's room to check on him. The prelate's airbag opened on impact; he was wearing a seat belt.

While the usual recovery timetable for a broken ankle creates a precarious logistical situation, as things stand no change is foreseen to the cardinal's presiding at the rededication of Baltimore's Basilica of the Assumption early next month; if anything, his intent to see his much-loved project to its completion would outweigh practically any obstacle. However, to ease the strain of his initial recuperation, there might be a slight delay of Keeler's return from Italy, initially scheduled for Saturday.