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Paul Likoudis: Rest In Peace

September 30, 2016 Frontpage No Comments


ST. PAUL, Minn. — “For the greatest fulfillment of joy we shall have, as I see it, is the marvelous courtesy and unassuming friendliness of our Father who is our Maker, in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Paul Likoudis included that quotation from Blessed Julian of Norwich in a book he wrote and published in 1986, entitled Saints and the Struggle for a Christian Society.
I reviewed that book for The Wanderer in its then book review section, Reflections, summer 1986. I met Paul for the first time two months later, at the 19th National Wanderer Forum, October 3-4, in Washington, D.C. Paul thanked me for the kindness of my review.
We both wrote about that Forum for The Wanderer, with Paul reporting on “Forum Participants Inspired by Talks on Role of Laity.”
That coverage was the beginning of Paul’s long career with The Wanderer, following his employment with other Church outlets, including the Catholic Commentator in Baton Rouge, La., and the Canadian Catholic Register, based in Toronto.
Paul’s work as news editor for The Wanderer ended in 2014 following the onset of his colon cancer.
Paul died on Thursday, September 22, just as last week’s issue of The Wanderer was wrapped up. He is survived by his beloved wife Paulette, their six children and six grandchildren, his parents, James and Ruth, and his brother and four sisters. Paul, who was 61, resided in Caywood, N.Y. His funeral Mass was celebrated on September 28 at St. Mary of the Lake Parish in Watkins Glen, N.Y., where Paul once served as an altar boy.
We can now imagine Paul enjoying that vision of God described by Blessed Julian and knowing the company of the saints — especially with those he included in his 1986 book, such as Joan of Arc and Francis of Assisi. Not to mention the many other saints and Catholic heroes he wrote about in The Wanderer, such as St. Andre Bessette, St. Marianne Cope, Henry Cardinal Manning, and John Henry Cardinal Newman.
The title of that book — Saints and the Struggle for a Christian Society — could be a theme for Paul’s work, not only because of its extensiveness of the struggles he covered, but also because of the saintly hopefulness he always conveyed.
Paul’s job unavoidably involved delivering bad news. He investigated problem dioceses and presciently covered the clergy sex abuse scandals, long before the scandals became major news in 2002.
But in that same year, 2002, he also wrote an article about how converts were discovering and entering the Church despite the scandals. In The Wanderer of October 10, 2002, Paul reported on a conversation he had with Jim Anderson of the Coming Home Network. Anderson told him that the Network that year so far had helped 94 Protestant ministers, as well as many Protestant lay folk, to come into the Catholic Church.
Anderson told Likoudis: “For Protestants, the scandals are a non-issue. Among the hundreds of people I have talked to who are thinking of coming into the Church, the scandals just aren’t an issue. Of all the people who have contacted me, only three or four have mentioned them, and that was only at my prompting.”
He added that these Protestants “view the present scandals as a terrible tragedy; they want justice like everybody else. But as far as the truth of the Catholic faith is concerned, it is a non-issue.”
Today, news about Church scandals continues, of course: The Morning Call of western Pennsylvania reported on March 1, 2016 that “a grand jury report released Tuesday accuses two bishops who ran the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown of allowing at least 50 priests and other religious leaders to sexually abuse hundreds of children for decades.
“ ‘These predators desecrated a sacred trust and preyed upon their victims…where they should have felt most safe,’ state Attorney General Kathleen Kane said.”
In 1996, Likoudis wrote an extensive series — Wanderer issues dated August 8 to September 12 — on that diocese. After the news about the fresh accusations broke last March, The Wanderer received numerous calls from reporters who wanted to get copies of Paul’s reportage on the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown. So, even coverage of bad news can continue to do some good, and may do so into the future.
Ten years earlier, in 1986, when Paul wrote Saints and the Struggle for a Christian Society, John Paul II’s long reign was still in its infancy. His canonization wouldn’t take place for more than three decades. But Likoudis was a John Paul II enthusiast from the beginning, as the late Pope helped inspired Paul’s spirituality and his vocation.
In The Wanderer dated April 14, 2005 — the first issue after St. John Paul’s death — Paul wrote “Memory and Identity…Remembering Pope John Paul II.” There, he recalled:
“John Paul II and I bonded the day of his election. I was sitting in a bar in the very northern tip of Maine after a hard day digging holes for guardrails along a new stretch of U.S. 1 with the Maine-Line Fence Company when the nightly news announced the election of the archbishop of Krakow, who once worked in a rock quarry.”
After noting that “in October 1978, I was dead set on getting away from it all, hiding out in the endless woods of northern Maine,” Likoudis continued:
“When the Pope spoke to more than 200,000 people in St. Peter’s Square at his inauguration Mass on October 22, his words shook me, and struck a deep chord:
“‘So often today man does not know what is within him, in the depths of mind and heart. So often he is uncertain about the meaning of his life on this earth. He is assailed by doubt, a doubt which turns into despair. We ask you, therefore, we beg you with humility and trust, let Christ speak to man. He alone has words of life, yes, eternal life.”
While no one would describe the present times in the Church as untroubled, in his last message to Wanderer readers (issue of August 11, 2016, p. 8B), Paul again wrote about JP II and reminded us that there is indeed something to be grateful for.
Paul first recalled covering the 1990 U.S. bishops’ meeting:
“The 1990 U.S. bishops’ meeting was the first I attended, and likely the most contentious of the decade. The issues that dominated the meeting were on ‘sexist language’ in the liturgy, and the bishops’ sex-ed document, Human Sexuality: A Catholic Perspective for Education and Lifelong Learning, which essentially called for cradle-to-grave sex education for Catholics. . . .
“Among my most vivid memories of that meeting were the interventions of the late New York Auxiliary Bishop Austin Vaughan, particularly on the sex-ed document and proposed feminist liturgical language. He was, literally, like Daniel in the lion’s den.”
Paul then concluded:
“Surely, it is a sign of how much the Church in this country has changed over the decades, and how successful, ultimately, Pope St. John Paul II was in purifying the U.S. Church of its Americanist tendencies. Critics may say what they will, but the U.S. Church — at least in its hierarchy — is not distinguished by prominent dissenters on the bench to the degree that it was then.”
Paul Likoudis’ writing covered saints and sinners, and heroes and villains in the “struggle for a Christian society.”
May we all be inspired as Paul was by the saints and heroes he wrote about, and may this servant of God rest in peace!

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