Michael was raised Mormon, received a full scholarship to University of San Francisco for medicine and converted after his psychiatry degree.
An openly gay man before he converted to Catholicism and became a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington; he was the founder of the St. Luke Institute (a psychiatric hospital in Maryland for Catholic priests and religious-order men and women) and the co-author of a 1985 report to U.S. Catholic bishops, warning them about the level of sexual abuse by priests.
"His report was dismissed by US bishops. Some may have thought he was touting for business for his clinic. Others regarded him as extreme. The report reads now like prophecy."
He is the founder of the Gay Community News in Boston. Peterson was also one of the first priests with AIDS to attract national attention.
The Rev. Father Michael R. Peterson died of complications resulting from the AIDS virus. He was 44 years old.
Archbishop James A. Hickey of Washington said in a news conference today that Father Peterson decided last February to publicly discuss his illness, after months of indecision, because he thought it would help other victims of acquired immune deficiency syndrome.
In a letter sent to every Catholic bishop in the country last month, Father Peterson wrote,
''I hope that in my own struggle with this disease, in finally acknowledging that I have this lethal syndrome, there might come some measure of compassion, understanding and healing for me and for others with it - especially those who face this disease alone and in fear.''