Fr. Neuhaus – RIP

We received the news of the death of Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, convert, priest of the Archdiocese of New York, author and editor of First Things.  With wit and good humor, Father Neuhaus was a strong and intelligent voice of sound teaching and defense of the Catholic faith in the public square for many years. 

The Christian presence and voice in the “public square” was a constant theme of his.  He penned a book called The Naked Public Square and provided a marvelous anecdotal commentary in the monthly First Things called “The “Public Square”.  He underscored that we must not allow the expression of religion to be marginalized from public discourse.  People of faith have a right to express themselves in the great debate about the burning issues of our time.  We have the right, as much as anyone, to shape the discourse. 

In these WDTPRS columns I have picked up the theme of the “public square” especially in light of what I believe His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI has been trying to accomplish in his pontificate.  Pope Benedict has been trying to revitalize our Catholic identity precisely so that we can contribute something vital, and often missing, from “the public square”, where policies, laws and mores are forged under the heat and hammering of debate.  Catholics must have a voice in government, the arts, the academy, the press, every human endeavor.  But for our voice and actions to have a good effect, according to our vocations to shape the world around us, we must know who we are as Catholics, know what we believe, and be able to express the same cogently and with conviction.  If we don’t know who we are, then we won’t have anything to offer.

Liturgy is a key element what I call the Pope’s “Marshall Plan”, to revive our identity and energize our Church, both within and also for the sake of our role in the public square.  As we pray as Catholics, so shall we believe and behave.  If we have fuzzy prayers, nebulous and ever-shifting worship, we will be vague and ineffective as Catholic Christians with nothing firm to stand on in our own lives and nothing worth of attention from others.

When Pope Benedict through his document Summorum Pontificum released the older form of Mass and the sacraments from exile, he put into the hands of parish priests a powerful tool for the redirection of our public worship and the revitalization of our Catholic identity.  What was sacred for our ancestors in the Faith, is sacred for us today.  What shaped our forebears and nourished the lives of saints, shaped cultures, guided the arts and thought about life’s deepest questions for over a millennium is part of who we are as Catholics.  What served as a bulwark against religious and secularist error, what provided the rich and the poor together, the young and old, high born and lowly alike the possibility of a daily encounter with transforming mystery will be a mighty source of strength and grace now, as we struggle to be faithful to Christ’s commands in a ever more relativist dominated world.

I mourn the loss of Fr. Neuhaus.  His example and words in the public square will be missed.  In his life he helped to shape awareness of what is at stake.  In your charity, say a prayer for him.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord.
And let perpetual light shine upon him.

May he rest in peace.

May his soul, and all the souls of the faithful departed
through the mercy of God, rest in peace

Read Fr. Neuhaus’s insight about death and dying…

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Fr. Gary V. says:

    Rest in Peace, Fr. Neuhaus.
    I will remember at the Mass tonight.

  2. avecrux says:

    I am so sad!
    Please Lord – may the prayers of all those who have been touched by Father’s ministry quickly lead him into Your Presence – You for Whom He gave his life. Amen.

  3. Ann says:

    May he rest in God’s peace.

    His life’s work has done us much good and now
    I suspect his prayers will do even more good for us.

    Thank God for such priests, may God send us many more as holy.

  4. Bernie says:

    A sad day.

    A consolation: this faithful servant will soon be at Our Lord’s feet praying for more vocations like his.

  5. This world is a little less luminous, while heaven is a little bit brighter today with his passing. Eternal memory!

    “O God of all spirits and all flesh, Who have destroyed death, overcome the devil, and given life to the world: grant, O Lord to the soul of your servant the priest, Richard, who departed from this life, that it may rest in a place of light, in a place of happiness, in a place of peace, where there is no pain, no grief, no sighing. And since You are gracious God and Lover of mankind, forgive him every sin he has committed by thought, or word, or deed, for there is not a man who lives and does not sin: You alone are without sin, your righteousness is everlasting, and your word is true.

    For You are the Resurrection and the Life, and the Repose of your departed servant the priest, Richard, O Christ our God, and we render glory to You, together with your Eternal Father and your All-holy, Good and Life-giving Spirit, now and always and unto ages of ages. Amen!”

  6. Jason says:

    To live is Christ, and to die is gain.

    RIP Father Neuhaus.

  7. Mickey says:

    Peace to him and his family.

  8. Roland de Chanson says:

    Requiem aeternam. Lux perpetua. Vechnaja pamjat.

  9. I met him when I was a seminarian. He came to Mission, BC, Canada to give lectures to seminarians at Seminary of Christ the King. He was a natural speaker and with a good sense of humor. May he rest in peace.

  10. Megan says:

    Requiescat in pace, Fr. Neuhaus. Lux æterna luceat eis, Domine, cum sanctis tuis in æternum, quia pius es. Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis.

  11. Bob Glassmeyer says:

    Memory Eternal! +

  12. Londiniensis says:

    RIP Fr Richard John Neuhaus.

    I link to a 2000 essay of his, “Born Towards Dying”, republished today by First Things:

  13. Thomas says:

    I knew Father had cancer again, but I was not expecting this when I turned the computer on half an hour ago. After the initial gasp I let out, I feel like a weight has been dropped on my chest.

    I know he wields more influence than ever now, but the loss of this great Crusader is heartbreaking.

  14. Rellis says:

    Not to put a damper on this, but didn’t Fr. Z expressly ask us not to canonize people at their funerals? Even those most deserving?

    I for one hope that his Purgatory cleansing will be brief or non-existent. RIP, Fr. Neuhaus.

  15. Ann says:

    I feel the way I did when Pope John Paul II died. Of course that was more catastrophic, but the passing of Father Neuhaus has left a huge, gaping hole in our nation and our Church. His good influence over the decades through First Things, his books, his organizations, and his tireless work in religious, social and political areas is incalculable. At least with the Holy Father, we saw it coming and knew someone would, albeit differently, take his place. Who will take the place of Fr. Neuhaus? I’m a bit miffed, I will admit to you who may understand: why would God deprive us of this great man at a time when our society so desperately needs him?

  16. Sid says:

    We have lost a wise and good man, one who, with respect to the public square and Christians, practiced what he preached. In the 60s he worked for civil rights, marching with King, and he opposed the Viet-Nam War. Later, alarmed rightly at the cultural revolution of the 60s, he worked for pro-life. Many of his earlier “liberal” allies turned against him; and he seems to have been mistreated by some from another political direction when he suspected that direction of racialism and Judeophobia — two crimes he fought all his life.

    Yet his wit and charm were never lost, nor his insight and passion. Nor his charity. As for the theme of this website, readers can google what he liked least about USA Catholicism: “I find the liturgy and music of contemporary Catholicism depressing. But that is something I will have to bear with.”

    I pray that someday we’ll get the story of his conversion from Lutheranism (Was he Mainline or Missouri Synod?) to the orthodox Catholic Faith. And I pray for the repose of his soul.

  17. John Enright says:

    Where did my post go?

  18. Richard says:

    I must say that there are many things about Fr. Neuhaus I will miss: his sonorous voice; the twinkle in his eye; a boon companion over cigar and scotch.

    But it is going to be very, very hard to pick up my First Things issue each month and no longer have the joy of flipping immediately to see his commentary in “The Public Square.” Very hard indeed. RIP, Fr. Neuhaus, and as you were always wont to say when a dear friend or figure had passed on, may choirs of angels welcome you on the far side of Jordan.

  19. EDG says:

    I listened to Elgar’s great oratorio, The Dream of Gerontius, tonight in memory of Fr. Neuhaus. I think God blessed Fr Neuhaus with a death we can all envy, a good Christian death, having received the sacraments and not suddenly being swept out of life without a chance to make that final peace. Many prayers for him. He was not only a brilliant writer and an incredibly active Christian intellectual (aside from being a holy priest, of course!), but he was a very humble person who was good and kind even to unkwnon people who wrote to him or met him but were not particularly significant in the world of letters or any other.

    Does anyone know where and when his funeral will be?

  20. John Enright says:


  21. John Enright says:

    Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei. Fidelium anamae, per misericordiam Dei, requiescat in pace.

  22. Michelle Romani says:

    Inasmuch as I realize that we shouldn’t declare people “santo subito” immediately, I am tempted to say this for Fr. Richard John Neuhaus. I found out about the gravity of his illness having read the Whispers in the Loggia blog. I prayed for him last night. Then, this morning, I called First Things at 8AM (Texas time) to see how he was doing. At that time, the secretary told me that he was hanging in there. Later on, about about 9:15 AM (Texas time), something told me to check back with First Things. When I called, I got the sad news. It hurt me, a lot more than the death of Pope John Paul II.

    About three years ago, I wrote an email to Fr. Neuhaus, talking about liturgial abuse, in response to one of his commentaries. I was surprised to get a response from him and an encouraging word. Several days later, I got a letter delivered by snail-mail. It was very kind of him to reach me through both avenues.

    Since then, I had thoroughly enjoyed his articles and his books. I especially enjoyed his commentary regarding the insipid treatment of the music during the Papal Mass at Nationals Stadium. I probably would have joined him for some scotch and Dr. Pepper after that musical debacle.

    I pray that the purgatory be a brief flash and that he will intercede for us before the Throne of the Triune God.

  23. Sheryl D. says:

    May the Lord grant him blessed repose and eternal memory!

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