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Milhaven, John

Providence, RI
John G. Giles Milhaven, professor emeritus of religious studies at Brown University, for Jesuit priest and proponent for change within the Catholic Church died at Steere House.

Mr. Milhaven was ordained a Jesuit priest in 1956, began his teaching career in 1951 at Canisius College, Buffalo, NY and later taught at Fordham Univesity, Georgetown University, and Woodstock College.

He was the husband of Anne Milhaven, also a religious. The couple left their respective orders to marry in 1970 and both were excommunicated for a year before receiving dispensations.

"The truth is excommunication didnt bother me a bit, he said. One reason is that the church laws didnt impress me that much. As a priest, I advised people to go ahead and do things they believed were right for them but that were in violation of church law.

He became an associate professor of religious studies at Brown in 1970, a full professor in 1976, and was named professor emeritus in 1998.

In 1984 he was one of 55 Catholic theologians to sign a statement asserting that the Catholic Churchs position on abortion was not monolithic.

A full page ad in the New York Times in 1986 proclaiming a declaration of solidarity for free speech within the church was also signed by Mr. Milhaven and the ire of former Bishop Louis Gelineau, Bishop of Providence.

He authored several books, one of which was Towards a New Catholic Morality.

His essay, Becoming Pro-Life While Staying Pro-Choice was orignially published in 1988 and reprinted in 1993.

Mr. Milhaven had served on the board of directors of Catholics for a Free Choice and the advisory board of the humanities doctoral program at Salve Regina University.

Born in New York City, a son of the late John and Rose Milhaven, he had lived in Providence since 1970.

Besides his wife, he leaves a daughter, Shelley Smith of Las Vegas, NV, a brother Edward Milhaven of Port Ewen NY, a sister, Sister Regina Milhaven of Amityville, NY, and three grandchildren.