Friday, January 09, 2009

Prof. Kmiec Eulogizes Fr. Neuhaus in a Manner That is All About Prof. Kmiec and Justifying his Obama Vote [UPDATED]

Our old friend Prof. Kmiec "eulogizes" Fr. Neuhaus over at Catholic Online:
... In the last half year or so, Father Neuhaus and I had a public colloquy – disagreement really -- over the issue of how best to lessen the scourge of abortion. While there were times when I thought his words took on an unfortunate edge of political discourse, [ED.: Imagine that. Political disagreements taking on the "edge of political discourse". Poor Dougie, ever the martyr. And it's not like Kmiec's discourse ever took on an "unfortunate edge", right?] I shall forever remember this priest as a friend. A convert to the Catholic faith, Father Neuhaus was also responsible for a very successful effort, on the conservative side of the ledger, to build a bridge of respect between the Catholic and evangelical traditions. That alliance in itself is an invaluable legacy.

Recently, of course, millions have expressed their hope for change of historic proportion in electing Barack Obama. Father Neuhaus was not in Obama’s column during the campaign, but I am confident he would have sought out opportunities to support the new President’s efforts to establish economic justice and to advance the cause of peace. But Father John would have remained steadfast in his call to America to “change” and give full support to human life.

Roe is mistaken constitutional law, because it's not based on the Constitution or any tradition or custom implicit within its terms, and on this, Father Neuhaus and I agreed. We differed over the likelihood and the impact of Roe’s reversal. Being in the presence of God, as I am confident Richard John Neuhaus surely is, the good father now knows which of us was right. I pray he was if Roe is overturned not with the kind of false judicial restraint that then leaves the states free to do whatever they want, but with a judicial fidelity to and reaffirmation of the “unalienable right to life” in the Declaration of Independence.

Even with Father Neuhaus now dispatching his essays from a heavenly editorial perch, the Declaration’s more fulsome affirmation of life seems unlikely. For that reason, as I see it, we have no alternative but to be about the business of helping one woman at a time make a choice in favor of life. Many will recognize this as the Obama approach, but what may be overlooked (but should not be), is that it was also that of Father John. Father Neuhaus wrote that we must “take seriously the needs of women whose social or economic circumstances might tempt them to seek the abortion ‘solution.’”

[More, if your stomach can tolerate it]
(emphasis added)

My Comments:

Tasteless. Unbecoming. Insensitive. Not to mention utterly false and nonsensical.

As I said in the comments over at Catholic Online:

Leave it to Prof. Kmiec to eulogize Fr. Neuhaus in a way that is really all about Prof. Kmiec and just another lame defense of his decision to vote for Obama. Fr. Neuhaus, may he rest in peace, deserves better.
The second comment I left, not surprisingly, didn't make it past the editor [UPDATE: My second comment apparently did make it past the editor]:

In fact, the most impressive thing about Prof. Kmiec's "eulogy" of Fr. Neuhaus is that he didn't use it as yet another opportunity to share with us about how he was denied Communion.
The rest of the comments at Catholic Online are similarly unimpressed by Prof. Kmiec's offering. Do read them. Former Kmiec student Gunnar Gundersen's response hits the nail on the head as to the impropriety of Kmiec's "tribute":
Does it really honor Fr. Neuhaus to equate his approach to abortion with Obama's FOCA approach? Was it really non-partisan to allow Professor Kmiec to mislead the readers of that Obama wants to help women not choose abortion when his minions are preparing to use federal dollars to fund them? Did it really help in understanding Fr. Neuhaus's legacy by describing his contributions to Catholic theology and moral thought in this country to "political discourse" and benefiting only the "conservative side of the ledger?"

Moreover, the article was an invitation to despair that we will never overturn the unjust laws against abortion! Despair is from the Devil. If Professor Kmiec really believes that Fr. Neuhaus is in heaven with God then he should know that it is more likely than ever that a pro-life victory is at hand for now we have more help from the Church Triumphant in Fr. Neuhaus's prayers in heaven.
I'm a big fan of Deacon Fournier, but I am disappointed that he has chosen at this time to give a forum to this dreadful "eulogy" of such a great man as Fr. Neuhaus. It is past the time that respectable orthodox Catholic publications and organizations should be giving a platform for Prof. Kmiec to spew his dissenting nonsense.

But to allow it under the guise of eulogizing Fr. Neuhaus is beyond the pale.

UPDATE (12 January)
Joseph Bottum posts his response to Kmiec at First Things:
... Finally, there is Douglas Kmiec’s odd obituary. I’m tempted to say a reasonable response can be found here, but some readers may not appreciate the profanity. Anyway, Kmiec’s attempt to pose himself as a friend and dialogue partner of Fr. Neuhaus may be the saddest and most pathetic of all the responses to this recent death. “It absolutely delighted Father John that the Holy Father gave American Catholics credit for resisting the secular trends of Western Europe,” Kmiec writes—to which the only response is: Who the hell ever called Richard by the name “Father John”? Only people who didn’t actually know him and want, after his death, to pretend that they did...
Oh my. The post to which Bottum links is a bit jarring, especially juxtaposed below a photo of the Blessed Sacrament; but I'd be lying if I said the same thought hadn't crossed my mind once or twice over the past year.

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At 1/09/2009 12:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eulogies are not the place to score political points. That is truly distasteful. Not exactly demonstrating the most humility, either.

At 1/09/2009 12:45 PM, Blogger The Zapman said...

It doesn't seem like I have seen anything so brazen and shameless in a while, though with the political climate being as it is, I'm sure I have.

At 1/09/2009 1:41 PM, Blogger Marilyn Heller said...

Actually, Jay, I believe your second comment did make it past the editor. I saw it posted along with the other comments.

At 1/09/2009 1:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 1/09/2009 3:12 PM, Blogger David L Alexander said...

You mean this man had an entire election year to make an ass of himself, and he's still not done? I was asking someone the other day why we hadn't heard much from Kmiec lately. I'm sorry I asked.

At 1/09/2009 3:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

On a side note, the comments section over there is the oddest thing I have ever seen. Do they publish in reverse order? I hate that.

I asked a couple of friends of mine who went to CUA what they thought. And while they both think that we shouldn't be too hard on Kmiec, they thought so because this is about as good as we could have expected, which is really not saying much.

The saddest thing about this is that for the better part of a day Roman Catholics had been pretty united in showing their respects for Fr. Neuhaus. Now Kmiec comes along and he completely disturbed that peace. It may not have been his intention, but that's what happened.

At 1/09/2009 4:23 PM, Blogger Adrienne said...

The only people that listen to that loon are those looking for someone or something to back up their own cafeteria Catholicism.

At 1/09/2009 6:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where is the dissent? He is clearly pro-life. Nothing in that article hinted at anything dissenting from Church teaching. Was it a tasteless article? I probably wouldn't have written it so soon after the man's death, but I have a feeling that you guys would have criticized anything Kmiec says.

At 1/09/2009 6:57 PM, Blogger David L Alexander said...

No, we would have criticized someone inappropriate Kmiec would have said. And this was inappropriate, in that it was entirely self-serving, among other things.

At 1/09/2009 6:58 PM, Blogger David L Alexander said...

Did I say someone? I meant someTHING.

At 1/09/2009 9:02 PM, Blogger Pro Ecclesia said...

"Where is the dissent? He is clearly pro-life."

No he is NOT "clearly" pro-life. He claims to want to see Roe overturned, but in the same breath declares it a lost cause and creates an impossible scenario and standard under which overturning the decision would be acceptable to him. And just read his arguments for Obama's abortion position that he made throughout the election season - his ever-changing arguments and justifications morphed, essentially, into "personally opposed, but ..."

That's just the same old pro-choice crap we've been hearing for years.

At 1/09/2009 11:23 PM, Blogger miafrate said...

There is nothing "tasteless" about acknowledging disagreements that they had very recently and publicly.

At 1/10/2009 12:36 AM, Blogger David L Alexander said...

It is definitely in bad taste to use those opportunities to "get the last word in" at the expense of the deceased. Acknowledging something is one thing; expounding at length as a self-serving exercise is quite another.

At 1/10/2009 2:09 AM, Blogger . Eric . said...

I'm disturbed that the subject matter would be so highly focused on the disagreement and establishing his point so that it's clear to everyone -- that is, I think I was right rather than directy and undividedly focus on the loss of a good friend who was treasure on earth.

I'm certain he could have reserved these thoughts; the fact that he did not says something. Besides if he likes the last word so much, he should have at least had the decency of replying to a pro-life Democrat (moi) who sent him a letter saying his reasoning for voting Obama was absurd to say the least.

At 1/10/2009 9:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is tasteless about Prof. Kmiec's essay about Fr. Neuhaus, and manifestly insincere, is his pretense at a warm, personal friendship when Kmiec doesn't even know his name. Fr. Neuhaus was never "Fr. John". It was, if you want to use his first name, "Fr. Richard," as in Richard John Neuhaus. Anyone who knew Richard knew this. Kmiec's mask has slipped.

At 1/10/2009 3:18 PM, Blogger Geoffrey said...

Has Professor Kmiec no respect for the dead? What a pitiful man...

At 1/11/2009 10:51 PM, Blogger CMinor said...

I guess you could say that Kmiec Wellstoned the eulogy.

I found his use of "fulsome" in
"the Declaration’s more fulsome affirmation of life" singularly unfortunate as present day usage equates the word with "disgusting or offensive, esp. because excessive or insincere." Was that really the meaning he was aiming for regarding the fudamental rights of man as enumerated in the Declaration?

At 1/13/2009 3:06 PM, Blogger T. Ambrose Nazianzus said...

Hi folks,

As the author of the post in question, I do agree that putting the F-bomb underneath a picture of the Sacrament was a bit much, but by that point, I found myself so totally frustrated with the eulogy, that I found it the only thing that expressed my saddness in a manner that also expresses my anger at injustice, in this, what I believed was an unjust final narrative, by someone who didn't seem to know Fr. Neuhaus.

I've since censored the profanity, in memory of Fr. Neuhaus. He probably would have disapproved...or at least, wouldn't have approved of it publically. I apologize if was jarring to anyone else.

At 1/13/2009 3:27 PM, Blogger Pro Ecclesia said...


Thanks for clarifying. I certainly empathize with your frustration, and, as I noted in the UPDATE to my post, have had similar uncharitable thoughts enter my mind over the past year in relation to some of the things Prof. Kmiec has written.

As an aside, I bet that conversation you had with Prof. Kmiec was quite interesting.


At 1/13/2009 9:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

God bless Fr. Neuhaus and may he rest in peace. Doug Kmeic should have kept his mouth shut.


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