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A Disarming Spirit the life of Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen

Updated: Jul 7, 2021

by Frank Fromherz

Reviewed by Gordon Nary

I have this exceptional and beautiful book next to my Bible because, from my perspective, Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen represents what a Catholic should be but seldom is. While reading this beautifully written and meticulously researched book about a controversial member of the clergy, I keep thinking of Bette Midler singing

Did you ever know that you're my hero, And everything I would like to be? I can fly higher than an eagle, For you are the wind beneath my wings.

Fly, fly, fly high against the sky, So high I almost touch the sky. Thank you, thank you, Thank God for you, the wind beneath my wings.

For our readers who may not know who Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen was, I linked his name to a report of his death in the National Catholic Register.

This book is especially important to me since, when I was younger, I was an activist protesting against the US and other governments’ policies in not addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic, especially in the prevention of mother to child transmission. My protests and advocacy resulted in an audience with Saint John Paul II.

Archbishop Hunthausen’s activism inspired me to protest and try to address this challenge. He taught me what activism is. He taught me that we have a moral responsibility to speak out and protest when necessary on issues that we believe are fundamental to our faith. We shared many beliefs including our belief the Jesus was an activist, a view not shared by Pope Benedict XVI as Frank Fromherz points out.

The titles of the three sections of this book are a reflection on his life – Conscience Courage Character. There are also two other words that describe this remarkable man - faith and humility . Frank Fromherz’s intimate portrait of Archbishop Hunthausen makes one believe that they knew the Archbishop even though they may have never met him.

We need to pray for and support those who have the courage to protest against that which they believe is immoral and help them whenever possible – people like Martha Hennessy who with her colleagues shares the Archbishop’s passion on nuclear challenges..

In my interview with Father John Pawlikowskl,. he closed the interview by stating “I believe bishops need to make known the American Catholic Church's opposition to the use of nuclear weaponry. The U.S. Bishops Peace Pastoral of several decades ago together with its anniversary update argued that there is no way such weaponry can meet the criterion of Proportionality I believe bishops need to make known the American Catholic Church's proportionality test because of the massive human and ecological damage their use would entail. And if it is deterrent. The bishops need to make this Catholic position quite evident in the public sphere via op-eds, social media posts and public rallies.”

Many believe that our silence on major moral challenges is a form of consent. We need more people to speak out – lay people and clergy – and protest when necessary on moral challenges to our society. We need more heroes like Archbishop Hunthausen.

To quote Bette Midler “Thank you, thank you, Thank God for you.”


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