Thursday, January 08, 2009

RIP: Fr. Richard John Neuhaus

I receive First Things (A conservative Catholic journal about society, philosophy, theology, economics, law, and the like) as one of the journal subscriptions I have. Dr. Neuhaus will be missed, even by us Evangelicals. I am sure the union in fellowship with our Lord in heaven and hearing the words “well done kind and faithful servant” are music to his ears. My sympathies to his immediate family and friends.

Fr. Richard John Neuhaus dead at age 72

Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, a leading voice of Catholic conservatism in America, and one of those rare theologians and spiritual leaders whose influence vastly exceeded the boundaries of their religious community, has died at 72.

Neuhaus slipped away Jan. 8, shortly before 10 o’clock Eastern time. He never recovered from the weakness that sent him to the hospital the day after Christmas, caused by a series of side effects from the cancer he was suffering.

A priest of the New York archdiocese and a former Lutheran minister, Neuhaus was best known to society at large as an intellectual guru of what came to be known as the “religious right.”

From the early 1970s forward, Neuhaus was a key architect of two alliances with profound consequences for American politics, both of which overcame histories of mutual antagonism: one between conservative Catholics and Protestant Evangelicals, and the other between free market neo-conservatives and “faith and values” social conservatives.

In 2005, Time magazine took the unusual step of including the Catholic Neuhaus on a list of America’s 25 most influential Evangelicals, noting that in a 2004 session with journalists from religious publications, President George W. Bush cited Neuhaus more often than any other living authority.

“Father Richard,” the president said then, “helps me articulate these [religious] things.”

To Catholic insiders, however, it was Neuhaus’ writing rather than his political activism that made him a celebrity. From the pages of First Things, the unapologetically high-brow journal he founded in 1990, Neuhaus kept up a steady stream of commentary on matters both sacred and secular. ...