Friday, January 09, 2009

The Great Lion

Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, the great lion of the conservative Catholic intelligentsia in the United States, died yesterday morning at the age of 72. A brilliant writer and engrossing speaker, Fr. Neuhaus was editor-in-chief of First Things.

Obituaries by John Allen in the National Catholic Reporter and Laurie Goodstein in The New York Times outline Fr. Neuhaus' faith journey and work on the American political scene.

Ross Douthat and Raymond Arroyo and Damon Linker and Sully have penned reflections.

Fr. Neuhaus lived in my neighborhood here in New York -- he on East 19th Street and yours truly on East 15th. By happenstance, I once attended a Saturday evening Mass he celebrated at Immaculate Conception Church on East 14th Street (where he served as parochial vicar). His funeral Mass will be celebrated at Immaculate Conception on Tuesday.

From the prayers at the end of the funeral Mass:

Richard John,

May the angels lead you into paradise,
may the martyrs come to welcome you,
and take you to the holy city,
the new and eternal Jerusalem.

An aside: Fr. Neuhuas is pictured above on the set of "Meet the Press" on Easter Sunday, 2006. To his left is Sr. Joan Chittister, O.S.B. She's the great lion of the liberal Catholic intelligentsia. The late Tim Russert had the good sense to bring them together.

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