Fr. Richard Neuhaus could always be relied upon to honour his priestly vocation by stating the truth about difficult subjects for the benefit of both the spiritual and moral development of society. LifeSiteNews was privileged to interview this great man on several occasions. He never let us down in quickly getting right to the core with especially insightful comments on the difficult matters raised.
Neuhaus’s empathy with the struggles of the ordinary person was very real and unforgettable. He was a great orator, a true, high level Catholic intellectual and yet still a most humble and always approachable man – a rare human. Personal encounters with Fr. Neuhaus were not forgotten.
Neuhaus’s erudite fraternal correction of wayward bishops and other fellow clergy was a rare breath of fresh air compared to the obfuscation, secrecy, general cowardice and often deep corruption that has reigned in much of the Catholic Church in the US in recent decades.
Following are excerpts from notable articles on Fr. Neuhaus statements that have been published or referred to in LifeSiteNews.
The first is a six minute clip of audio excerpts from a powerful talk Fr. Neuhaus gave at an International Pro-Life Forum in Toronto on October 25, 2002. Many who heard that talk still often refer to it. The messages impressed them as being especially meaningful to the struggles encountered by pro-life activists.
1. Download and listen to Excerpts from A Blueprint for A Culture of Life
http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/audio/Neuhausexcerpts.wma (Window Media file)
http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/audio/Neuhausexcerpts.mp3 (mp3 file)
2. Fr. Neuhaus criticizes Archbishop Wuerl on Pro-Abortion Politicians Fiasco
Fr. Richard John Neuhaus wrote on the First Things site about the Pelosi situation. “When the aforementioned Nancy Pelosi orchestrated a four-day gala in Washington celebrating her familial, ethnic, and-very explicitly-Catholic identity, people were alert to what would be said by the new archbishop of Washington, Donald Wuerl,” wrote Fr. Neuhaus. “He said nothing. Part of the festivities was a Mass at Trinity College, a Catholic institution in Washington. The celebrant of the Mass was Father Robert Drinan, a Jesuit who, more than any other single figure, has been influential in tutoring Catholic politicians on the acceptability of rejecting the Church’s teaching on the defense of innocent human life. Asked by a reporter, Archbishop Wuerl responded that Fr. Drinan has ‘faculties’ in Washington, meaning he is authorized to celebrate the sacraments. That was it.”
“It is understandable,” concluded Neuhaus, “that Catholics and others have drawn the conclusion that,” for Archbishop Wuerl, “rejecting the Church’s teaching on the human dignity of the unborn child is not a big deal.” (see full comment by Neuhaus: http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/?p=598 )
3. “Not Even the Economy Trumps Culture of Life Issues in This Election”: Fr. Richard Neuhaus
“You can ask economic questions, foreign policy questions, fiscal questions et cetera; [and these] will bubble to the surface because that’s what the media are mainly paying attention to; but if you look underneath that, especially where a community looks at itself to be religiously serious – which is a majority of Americans – the thing that cuts most deeply is the culture of life questions.”
4. Pro-Abort Politicians “Friends of Mine” says New York Cardinal Egan
Edward Cardinal Egan, as archbishop of New York city, arguably one of the two most important Catholic prelates in the United States, indicated in a January 5 interview on NBC, that he had little problem with politicians, even Catholic politicians, who repudiate moral principles on such issues as abortion, euthanasia and marriage.
Commenting on the interview, Rev. Richard John Neuhaus, editor of the respected Catholic magazine First Things, noted that the politicians Egan referred to were not “struggling with the moral questions involved or trying to reconcile their position with the Church’s teaching.”
Neuhaus writes that Egan “was making a statement of momentous political consequence” in which “he seemed to be saying, as far as he is concerned, that the Church has no problem with pro-abortion politicians.”
Cardinal Egan’s statement coupled with the refusal of Washington’s Archbishop Wuerl to respond to the same issue, Neuhaus says, indicates that there is “no suggestion by the bishops that [the politicians’] longstanding and adamant support for the unlimited abortion license should be a matter of concern.”
On the sexual abuse scandals, Fr. Neuhaus was by far the most honest of all prominent commentators. He called his fellow bishops to serious account for their severe negligence and deadly refusal to acknowledge the real causes of the scandal – tolerance of theological dissent and widespread homosexuality among the clergy. Neuhaus wrote a great deal about this deadly problem that was threatening to destroy the Church in the West with consequent great loss to the culture.
5. U.S. CATHOLIC PAPER SAYS CHURCH SEX ABUSE INCIDENTS EXAGGERATED
Fr. Richard John Neuhaus stated in First Things “Some still complain that the entire crisis…was manufactured by the media and motivated by anti-Catholicism…but without the deeper crisis of the infidelity and negligence of bishops, the media could not have produced the public and, consequently, episcopal sense of crisis. The scandal was in the chanceries, parishes, and seminaries before it was on the front page or television news. ”
In an earlier article Neuhaus stated, “Homosexuality is very close to the center of the crisis. At the epicenter is the grave negligence of bishops. Not all bishops, to be sure, but too many.”
6. US BISHOPS ZERO TOLERANCE ABUSE POLICY SEEN AS BADLY FLAWED
In his latest article, Scandal Time III, First Things editor, Fr. Richard John Neuhaus states “Another name for the zero tolerance policy is scapegoating. In setting themselves against their priests, the bishops have turned themselves into assistant district attorneys…This is not ‘for the good of the Church’. This has nothing to do with ‘the protection of children and young people.’ This is panic and panic results in recklessness.”
Neuhaus continues, “The bishops have succeeded in scandalizing the faithful anew by adopting a thoroughly unbiblical, untraditional, and un-Catholic approach to sin and grace. …they end up adopting a policy that is sans repentance, sans conversion, sans forbearance, sans prudential judgment, sans forgiveness, sans almost anything one might have hoped for from bishops of the Church of Jesus Christ.”
The highly respected, faithful Catholic intellectual emphasizes that the media did not make up this scandal and were rightly disappointed in the Dallas results. Neuhaus writes “They (reporters) expected bishops… to do their job (at Dallas), to respond as bishops. Instead…there is the perception that they behaved more like Senators or CEOs engaged in damage control more than as moral teachers engaged in the gospel.”
7. SCANDAL TIME (Continued) by Richard John Neuhaus
Let it be stated unambiguously: the leaders of the Catholic Church, meaning mainly the bishops, are responsible for the crisis and for the consequent frenzy.
The scandal is only very marginally about pedophilia. With very few exceptions, it is about adult men having sexual relations with adolescent and older teenage boys.
Homosexuality is very close to the center of the crisis. At the epicenter is the grave negligence of bishops. Not all bishops, to be sure, but too many. And, as in the case of Palm Beach, Florida, not only grave negligence but active complicity. Two months ago a lawyer and friend of the Church told me that before this is over we will see a bishop or two in jail. I thought that hyperbolic. Now I am not so sure.
The point is that this is a crisis, and this crisis must be permitted to do its work. That work involves scrupulous self-examination, candid confession, firm contrition, and believable amendment of life. And the doing of that hard work is chiefly up to the bishops. They are the ones who got us into this mess and, given what we believe is the divinely constituted structure of the Church, they are the ones who have to lead in getting us out. Faithful Catholics owe it to the Church and owe it to their bishops not to let them off the hook. In this instance, the virtue of docility includes a respect for bishops that requires recalling them to the duty and the dignity to which they were ordained. Too many of them have neglected that duty and debased that dignity.
At the epicenter of the continuing crisis is the simple, however difficult, virtue of fidelity. What is this crisis about? The answer is that this crisis is about three things: fidelity, fidelity, and fidelity. The fidelity of bishops and priests to the teaching of the Church and to their solemn vows; the fidelity of bishops in exercising oversight in ensuring obedience to that teaching and to those vows; and the fidelity of the lay faithful in holding bishops and priests accountable.
I have been told that the proposition is “controversial,” but I suggest it is almost embarrassingly self-evident: if bishops and priests had been faithful to the teaching of the Church and their sacred vows, there would be no scandal. Those who would confuse the subject reflexively reach for complexity. No, I am sorry, it is as simple as that. We are reaping the whirlwind of widespread infidelity.
See many past Fr. Neuhaus articles at
8. Christianity “Disestablished” in Canada – Richard John Neuhaus
Neuhaus wrote in First Things, “It is true to say that, in most aspects of public life [in Canada], Christianity has been not only disestablished but also banished.” In an interview with the National Post, Neuhaus linked the erosion of the Christian foundation of Canadian society with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms imposed by the late Prime Minister, Pierre Elliot Trudeau.
Referring to the Charter as a “thoroughly American” document, Neuhaus told the Post’s Charles Lewis, that it “is riddled through and through with the radically individual notion of the unencumbered self and equality enforced by state power.”
“I think Canada has suffered from it grievously. All of Canada is a fascinating case study in terms of the meaning of modernity relative to religion generally and Christianity in particular.”