Father Richard John Neuhaus, American journalist and author, a Roman Catholic priest, died yesterday, January 8, 2009, suffering from cancer. Fr. Neuhaus contributed actively to American public life: He was a close, unofficial, but influential advisor to President George W. Bush, and promoted conservative and traditional Christian positions against abortion, embryonic stem-cell research, and human cloning. He supported a “Defense of [monogamous, heterosexual] Marriage Amendment” to the U.S. Constitution.
Fr. Neuhaus was born in Pembroke, Ontario, Canada, a lumber town in the Ottawa Valley 80 miles northwest of Ottawa, and into a family of eight children whose father was an ordained Lutheran minister. In 1960, he also became a Lutheran minister and, having settled in New York and become a U.S. Citizen, became involved in liberal politics. He was active in the civil right movement and had close ties with the Reverend Martin Luther King.
He later abandoned liberal politics, disagreeing with Roe v. Wade.
Fr. Neuhaus converted to Catholicism in 1990, and a year later was ordained a priest within the Archdiocese of New York.
In 1990, he founded FIRST THINGS, “a journal of religion and public policy” which is published ten times a year. The magazine has taken conservative positions on family life and morality, held a strict-constructionist line on the U.S. Supreme Court decisions, endorsed free-market capitalism, and encouraged religious dialogue between Catholic, Protestants and Jews.
His books include The Naked Public Square: Religion and Democracy in America (1984), The Catholic Moment: The Paradox of the Church in the Postmodern World (1987), and Catholic Matters: Confusion, Controversy, and the Splendor of Truth (2006).