Influential Catholic Richard J. Neuhaus Dies

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Rev. Richard John Neuhaus, one of America's most influential voices in unifying conservative Catholics and Protestant evangelicals, died Wednesday. He was 72.

Neuhaus was diagnosed with cancer in November, and was hospitalized the day after Christmas. His death is considered a result of the cancer.

"As a priest, as a writer, as a public leader in so many struggles, and as a friend, no one can take his place," First Things editor Joseph Bottum, said in a statement.

Neuhaus was president of the Institute on Religion and Public Life, which founded the Catholic-based journal.

CBN Founder Issues Statement on Neuhaus' Death

The Christian Broadcasting Network founder, Dr. M.G. "Pat" Robertson considered Neuhaus a great man of faith who made a difference in the world. Upon learning of his death, Robertson was quick to issue a statement of sympathy.

"I am deeply saddened by the passing of Fr. Richard Neuhaus. He was an intellectual powerhouse who used his brilliance and grace to bring Catholics and Evangelicals together. He will be sorely missed by all who knew him," Robertson said.

Read Neuhaus' article, "Born Toward Dying," republished Thursday on the First Things website in his memory.

Neuhaus led a predominantly African-American congregation in New York in the 1960s and at the time was a Lutheran minister. There he fought for civil rights and protested the Vietnam War.

Neuhaus converted to Catholicism in 1990, and is well-known for his 1984 book, The Naked Public Square: Religion and Democracy in America.

He spent countless years working to bringing the two traditions together and advocate their shared values. Along with Chuck Colson, he edited the book Evangelicals and Catholics Together: Toward a Common Mission.

Neuhaus served at the Institute on Religion & Democracy until his death.

"Neuhaus sought to advance a religiously informed public philosophy for the ordering of society," IRD president James Tonkowich said. "One in which the extremes of theocracy or rigid secularism were declined in favor of open engagement between religion and public life."

A vigil for Father Neuhaus will be held Monday, Jan. 12 at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in New York. Funeral services will take place the following morning.

Sources: Institute for Religion and Democracy, CBN News, First Things, The Washington Times

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