By John-Henry Westen
  NEW YORK, January 8, 2009 ( – Pro-life and religious communities around the world today mourn the loss of Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, a prolific pro-life activist and intellectual giant.  Neuhaus died today surrounded by family after a struggle with cancer for which he was hospitalized after Christmas. 

Fr. Neuhaus was born in Canada, one of eight children, and was the founder and editor of the influential journal First Things. Some of the top leadership of the pro-life community spoke with today about their memorable encounters with Fr. Neuhaus and to express their sorrow at his passing. 
Fr. Tom Euteneuer, President of Human Life International
“I am not surprised that Fr. Neuhaus would pass away in the Christmas season, just after Epiphany, because he was like the Star of Bethlehem leading people to Christ through the force of reason and faith.  I remember well when he converted to (Catholicism).  I was absolutely overjoyed, and since that time he has been a phenomenal influence for Catholicism and for truth in every thing that he did.  Our society, as well our Church will really miss him.”

Rabbi Yehuda Levin, Spokesman for the Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the U.S. and Canada
“I first met Reverend Neuhaus at a book party he gave for his book ‘The Naked Public Square’ in the early 80s. He very much influenced the public debate in a sharp, concise intellectual way.  He was a great pleasure to be with, a very witty conversationalist, a very warm person, an excellent orator.
“He was really one of the intellectual underpinnings of our cultural war for life and family, there’s no question about it. He was never shy in taking positions, even if they were not politically correct.  Even if they weren’t politically correct within the conservative movement he would speak out.
“He was a great personality in terms of religious leadership. There aren’t enough religious leaders willing to speak out as often and as sharply as he did and that’s going to be our greatest loss.
“The greatest living monument to him will be for religious leaders to fill the vacuum, the tremendous void left by him, and to speak out forcefully in this time in history with the inauguration of the Obama era and all that that portends.  I think the way we can commemorate the life of Reverend Neuhaus is to take up the strong leadership in the religious community which he had maintained.”

Judie Brown, President of American Life League
“It’s a terrible loss to the entire pro-life movement not to mention the Catholic Church.”
“I had a very interesting discussion with him one time in New York when I was giving a talk, relating the sacrifices of the Blessed Mother for her cousin Elizabeth. After the talk Fr. John said to me ‘I have never heard that perspective on the Blessed Mother before and I’m so glad I was here to hear it.’ And I was so honored, because he would be the last person on earth I thought I could say something to that he hadn’t thought of already. That was probably one of the highlights of my life, him giving me a compliment like that.”

Joseph Scheidler, President of the Pro-Life Action League
“I was shocked. I just couldn’t believe it.  We’ll miss him, and we needed him in these times.”
“I remember I was out in New York and I was supposed to have dinner with him, and I got caught in a traffic jam in terrible weather, with no way to reach him.

“I stood him up for dinner, he made dinner for me. I tried to reach him to apologize for not being there. I couldn’t reach him by phone or anything. Later on I met him and apologized, but he was so gracious – he made kind of a joke out of it.  That had been one of the things I felt so bad about all my life – I stood up Richard John Neuhaus.”
“He was such a great mind. Every time I’d see his name on something – I’d have to read it.”

Jim Hughes, President Campaign Life Coalition, VP International Right to Life
“It’s a great loss. I can remember when he was the keynote speaker at an international conference in Toronto years ago.  He applauded the presence of the youth and said that the youth is so important for the future of the battle. But he said ‘You old people you can’t retire, you’re in this for the duration, you can’t quit, and you’re here until God calls you to your eternal reward.’  He lived what he preached and died in service to Him whom he loved.”


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