The Rev. Andrew Greeley

The Rev. Andrew Greeley (Credit: CBS)

CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago priest and prolific author Andrew Greeley has died.

Greeley, whose books sold million of copies and who was often critical of the Catholic Church’s policies, passed at his John Hancock Center apartment around 7:30 a.m. Thursday, CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports.

He was 85.

“Our lives have been tremendously enriched by having the presence of Fr. Andrew Greeley in our family,” the Greeley family said in a statement. “Our hearts are heavy with grief, but we find hope in the promise of Heaven that our uncle spent his life proclaiming to us, his friends, his parishioners and his many fans. He resides now with the Lord of the Dance, and that dance will go on.”

Greeley suffered a brain injury in 2008 when his clothing got caught on the door of a taxi as it pulled away, causing him to fall and fracture his skull.

Greeley was born Feb, 5, 1928, in Oak Park.

Greeley published dozens of both non-fiction and fiction books, including “The Cardinal Sins” which sold 3 million copies, and was a longtime columnist at the Chicago Sun-Times.

Greeley donated much of the profits from his books to charity.

His final book, “Chicago Catholics and the Struggles Within Their Church,” was published in 2010, ending a nearly 50-year publishing history.

The book was based on a study of 500 Catholics that found dedication to the Church had not eroded, despite the priest sex abuse scandal, and the issue of abortion.

During his long career, Greeley lived to the fullest, rising every morning at 4 a.m. to write, usually working on three books at once, and always drawing on life in Chicago as a model.

“When the history of the American Catholic Church is written in America, I don’t know if you’re going to find a more significant name or a more impacting name on the church than Andrew Greeley,” the Rev. John Cusick told the Huffington Post in 2011.

Watch & Listen LIVE