Rocco Palmo reports on the passing yesterday, of the Jesuit priest Walter Burghardt, a former professor at Woodstock and Georgetown University. He was 95.
His funeral will be this Wednesday at Holy Trinity Church, also in Georgetown, which is staffed by the Jesuits. Burkhardt was a regular fixture there. I was a sacristan at Holy Trinity in the early 1990s, and he was one of the many priests whom I served. I cannot defend his lack of fortitude regarding certain "hard teachings" of the Church. He once lamented to me that people would take him to task for not speaking more forcefully against abortion; I used that moment to ask him, well, why don't you? In spite of his human failings, he was a gentleman of scholarly bearing, which is more than I could say for at least a few of his Companions. Inasmuch as the parish was going through a bit of turmoil in those days (which author Jim Naughton later described in a book, Catholics in Crisis: An American Parish Fights for Its Soul), he was one of the better-behaved priests around at the time. It was a pleasure to serve him.
He is deserving of our prayers. He could probably use them. Like most of us.