Friday, January 09, 2009

The Square Falls Silent

Richard John Neuhaus, 1936-2009:

Our great, good friend is gone.

Fr. Richard John Neuhaus slipped away today, January 8, shortly before 10 o'clock, at the age of seventy-two. 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. He lost consciousness Tuesday evening after a collapse in his heart rate, and soon after, in the company of friends, he died.

My tears are not for him--for he knew, all his life, that his Redeemer lives, and he has now been gathered by the Lord in whom he trusted.

I weep, rather for all the rest of us. As a priest, as a writer, as a public leader in so many struggles, and as a friend, no one can take his place. The fabric of life has been torn by his death, and it will not be repaired, for those of us who knew him, until that time when everything is mended and all our tears are wiped away.

Joseph Bottum is correct: no one will be able to take the place of Father Neuhaus. For me and many other readers of First Things, his "On the Public Square" jottings were the first place we went upon receiving a new issue and his wit and wisdom never disappointed us. I hope to have more on Father Neuhaus' passing later. For now, let me just reiterate how much he will be missed. R.I.P.

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