COPENHAGEN, Denmark — A Danish Lutheran minister who attracted international attention by proclaiming that there is no God or afterlife, but retracted after being suspended, has died. He was 72.

The Rev. Thorkild Grosboell died Sunday and had been suffering from cancer, his daughter Mette Kathrine Grosboell told The Associated Press.

“He was a great man. He should be remembered for that,” she said Monday.

Grosboell was suspended by his bishop after a May 2003 newspaper interview in which he said, “There is no heavenly God, there is no eternal life, there is no resurrection.”

Helsingoer bishop Lise-Lotte Rebel, whose diocese included Taarbaek, a small town north of Copenhagen where Grosboell was the pastor, handed his case to the government requesting that it take the necessary steps to dismiss him.

In Denmark, Lutheran ministers are employed by the state and only the government can fire them after a recommendation from their supervising bishop.

Grosboell eventually retracted his statement, apologized and his suspension was lifted.

More than 80 percent of Denmark’s population belongs to the State Evangelical Lutheran Church, though only about 5 percent attend church services regularly.