The Rev. Richard John Neuhaus, an eminent Catholic intellectual who tutored President Bush in Catholic social teaching and helped build the political coalition that made his election possible, died Thursday at age 72.

Neuhaus died soon after 10 a.m. of complications from cancer, according to a statement by First Things, the intellectual journal he founded in 1990.

Though he often portrayed himself as a simple priest, Neuhaus rose from a rabble-rousing leftist cleric in the 1960s to become a presidential mentor, helping Bush define his policies on gay marriage, abortion and stem-cell research, among other issues.

In 2005, Time magazine named the Catholic priest one of America's 25 most influential evangelicals.

"Father Richard helps me articulate these (religious) things," Bush said at the time. The two met nearly a decade ago as Bush was considering a run for the White House.

"Father Richard [Neuhaus] helped me craft what is still the integral part of my position on abortion, which is: Every child welcomed to life and protected by law," Bush said in a statement Thursday. "That is the goal of this administration."

In the 1990s, Neuhaus co-founded the group Evangelicals and Catholics Together with former Nixon White House counsel Charles Colson, which helped cement the political alliance between two groups that had long been suspicious of each other.

Bush's election is often considered the crowning achievement of that coalition, which wed Catholic intellectualism and evangelical political savvy. After Paul Weyrich's death in December, Neuhaus is the second leading architect of the modern religious right to die as Bush's tenure winds to a close.

Born in 1936 in Ontario, Canada, to a Lutheran clergyman, Neuhaus himself was ordained ...

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