Robert E. Hunt, 65, former priest, teacher turned businessman

August 09, 1999|By Laura Sullivan | Laura Sullivan,SUN STAFF

Robert E. Hunt, a former Roman Catholic priest who became known nationally in the 1960s for his public disagreement with Pope Paul VI's teaching on birth control, died Thursday at his Homeland residence of acute myeloid leukemia. He was 65.

A North Baltimore resident since 1984, Mr. Hunt was born and raised in Newark, N.J. After graduating from Seton Hall University in 1954, he studied for the priesthood at the Vatican. He was ordained in 1957 and spent three years in Rome earning a doctoral degree in sacred theology.

He returned briefly to New Jersey in 1960, but quickly accepted a teaching post at Catholic University in Washington, where he became director of dogmatic studies. Throughout the 1960s, he lectured at more than 30 universities across the country on interfaith relations.

In 1968, while at Catholic University, Mr. Hunt and 11 other theologians publicly dissented from the papal encyclical Ilumanae Vitae, which set down doctrine against the use of birth control. For their dissent, Mr. Hunt and the others were fired from the school -- which sparked demonstrations in support of them at universities across the county.

He and the Rev. Charles E. Curran co-wrote the book "Dissent In and For the Church," analyzing the events.

Mr. Hunt and the others were offered their jobs back at Catholic University after a lengthy review in 1969. But he chose not to return to the university and instead left the priesthood for a business career in Washington as executive vice president of AmProp, a real estate company. That year, he met Ann Murphy in Washington, and the two married.

In 1984, Mr. Hunt moved to Baltimore, where he worked as an asset manager and consultant on projects ranging from commercial real estate to marine salvage.

Mr. Hunt loved literature, music and opera as much as he loved watching the Orioles.

A Mass of the Resurrection will be offered 11 a.m. today at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, 5300 N. Charles St.

In addition to his wife of 30 years, Mr. Hunt is survived by a daughter, Tara Ann Hunt of New York; a son, Brendon M. Hunt of Baltimore; a sister, Regina H. Nugent of Aberdeen, N.J.; and three brothers, Francis L. Hunt of Baltimore; John F. Hunt of Montclair, N.J., and Leonard J. Hunt of Hackettstown, N.J.

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