An unsolved priest’s murder and forecast of today’s clerical chaos

Father Kunz in his biretta and traditional Latin Mass vestments, shown with altar boy Mark Nelson. (Photo courtesy of Mark Nelson)

At Catholic World Report there is an article about the unsolved murder of Fr. Alfred Kunz, 20 years ago.

Authorities have some suspects, but not yet enough.

Here is an excerpt from the article which explains why I keep my head on a swivel in Madison… and everywhere else.

Father Kunz was a sign of contradiction; a tradition-minded priest in the shadow of the liberal state capital. He was a 20th century fidei defensor, upholding Catholic teachings amid a sea of post-Vatican-II modernism. He preached the truth, no matter how unpopular. A sharp critic of homosexual corruption in the Church, he worked at the highest levels to expose priestly pederasty in rectories and chanceries. He saw the coming storm of sexual-abuse allegations that would swamp the Church years later and led to more than $3.3 billion in victim settlements and attorney fees in the United States alone. “You will find no justice in the Church today,” he told a friend not long before his death. He worried the pederasty scandals would destroy the diocesan priesthood.

His celebration of the Usus Antiquior, or the Traditional Latin Mass, drew congregants from three states. Even though he also celebrated the Novus Ordo Mass, some locals left for other churches. Kunz had a soft pastoral touch and a generous heart. He fixed up old cars and provided them to his cash-strapped teachers. He took no salary. His sister sent him boxes of socks when his became worn. He ran successful fish-fry fundraising dinners to support his parish and school. A typical day for Kunz started at 5:30 am and didn’t end until well after midnight. In between, he was a whirlwind of activity at church, in school, at diocesan offices in Madison, at hospitals and among his parishioners. His sudden, violent death left a trail of tears that still flows 20 years later.

It is an extensive article with lots of information.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    I miss Fr. Kunz, and I pray for him often. He was a wonderful man, very holy, and very kind, too. I never knew how he got so much energy, but I assumed it was directly from the Holy Ghost, because he never slowed down, except to pray. He is a martyr for the faith, and I suspect he is a saint in heaven, so perhaps instead of praying for him, I should be praying to him.

    Someone, somewhere knows the truth, and it may yet come out. I suppose we must leave that in the capable hands of Our Lord.

  2. Daddio says:

    I wonder when they’ll start requiring concealed carry training in seminaries?…

  3. Daddio says:

    I remember stories from the last time the scandal erupted, of priests being spat on in public places (airport sticks in my mind for some reason). Or college chaplain, a very holy man, went out in civvies most of the time because the attention had shifted from positive to negative. I suppose that’s a call for every priest to make, I wouldn’t presume to judge. Witness vs distraction.

  4. VonOrigen says:

    You know what hits me right in the gut about that story? The part about Fr. Kunz (may he rest in peace) conducting a Requiem Funeral Mass for Raphael, the aborted baby. Ecce homo…a man with broad shoulders, at that. Though I have no theological basis for it, I hold out the hope that that baby’s consecrated soul lifted up with him, to Heaven, the unnamed thousands of others who suffered the same cruel death.

    This is probably SWAG, but it makes me wonder if there is any connection between Raphael’s funeral and the killer.

    It seems that for every Fr. Kunz, there are ten other guys out there hell-bent on death and destruction these days. Dear Priests of God, as Sgt. Esterhaus used to say: be careful out there.

  5. Dimitri_Cavalli says:

    Was it a robbery, a “hit,” or a cult killing as Wikipedia’s entry on the case suggests?

    I suggest praying novenas (nine-day prayers) for Fr. Kunz’s murder to be eventually solved.

  6. jaykay says:

    VonOrigen: “Ecce homo…a man with broad shoulders,”

    Yes indeed, and as C.S. Lewis (a man from my own country, although Anglican) would have said: “A man with chest”.

    Lux pertetua luceat ei.

  7. hwriggles4 says:

    Wasn’t there a similar case that happened in the Diocese of Rochester (NY) circa 1993?

  8. taylorhall95 says:

    I read up on Fr Kunz, and the more I read about him, the more I think he was a saint. Perhaps, Fr. Z., you could do a series (or have Fr Heilman) do a guest series on Fr. Kunz‘s life.

    I’ve noticed there were quite a few signs of extraordinary holiness. From what I gathered, before the late 80s, Fr Kunz was not traditional with respect to the liturgy, but from the late 80s onward he gradually became more traditional until he almost exclusively celebrated the TLM at the time of his death. He also apparently received his vocation to the priesthood after waking up from a coma/unconsciousness as a child, and the first thing he said was “I shall be a priest.”

    Perhaps we could learn more about his prayer life, his charitable works, etc. Mainly in order to not focus simply on solving his murder, but to show that he lived a life of grace.

    I think it’s so important in these times that we have models of sanctity of whom we Catholics can organically promote pious devotion. So Fr Z, perhaps we could have more anecdotes (if possible) about Fr Kunz’s life?

  9. Antonin says:

    Now THIS is a good story and role model that illustrates exactly what I was discussing in the thread around priest and days off. Here you see a hardworking man whose legacy lives in well after his death. Young seminsarians should take heed

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