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The Rev. Philip Kaufman was not your typical Benedictine monk and Roman Catholic priest.

Kaufman of St. John's Abbey in Collegeville, Minn., who was born a Jew and sought open discussions on church doctrine, died Jan. 8 at the abbey. He was 96.

He was an author and a Catholic adult education teacher. During his career, he often lived outside of the abbey and worked with parishes.

In an effort to engage disaffected Catholics, he wrote "Why You Can Disagree and Remain a Faithful Catholic" in 1989.

His book tours sometimes annoyed local bishops -- one forbade him to speak on church property, according to an obituary on the St. John's website.

And he loved to argue, said Richard Ice, chairman of the Communication Department at the College of St. Benedict/St. John's University, whose classes have been a forum for Kaufman.

"A lot of people attacked him for what he was saying," Ice said. "He never attributed ill motive to anyone who attacked him. He lived his life open to disagreement, and people who disagreed with him; he actually liked talking to them."

Kaufman said Catholics should be open to discussion about contraception, about the Vatican giving lay church leaders a say on who should lead them and about women in the priesthood.

He also wrote "The Beloved Disciple: Witness against Anti-Semitism." Said Ice: "He especially hated the kind of anti-Semitism that said the Jews killed Jesus."

Kaufman was born in Vicksburg, Miss., to a Reform Jewish family. After earning bachelor's and master's degrees in government at Louisiana State University in the 1930s, he and his family moved to New York.

He worked in a department store and planned on attending law school.

Through a Catholic friend, he became acquainted with the church and, of course, argued about religion. But after he met a monk from St. John's Abbey, he felt called to convert and become one, too. He was baptized in 1937; it was so hard on his Jewish mother that he stayed with her a year so she could become accustomed to the idea.

He began teaching at St. John's in 1939, professed vows as a Benedictine monk in 1941 and was ordained a priest in 1945.

For 18 years, he was known as the "Goat Priest" at the Benedictine school and monastery of St. Augustine in the Bahamas, where he raised the animals for their milk. He also managed the school's business affairs and taught history and scripture.

He returned to St. John's in 1964 and took several courses in the graduate School of Theology.

Over the years, he taught at St. Benedict's High School and College in St. Joseph and conducted adult education classes at various parishes and other organizations, including in the Twin Cities.

In 1986, he returned to St. John's Abbey, hosting an occasional retreat and writing books and articles.

He is survived by nephews.

Services have been held.