Writing obituaries about controversial — but to many people beloved — public figures is a difficult task that involves some complicated mathematics.
The death of former Catholic Archbishop Rembert Weakland of Milwaukee is a classic example and, here is the crucial point in this post, this was not a simple matter of “left” vs. “right.”
That said, there is no question that for decades — during the papacies of St. Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI — Weakland was a liberal Catholic superstar, with the word “liberal” in this case defined in political, cultural and doctrinal terms. But then there were revelations about his ethics and private life.
Thus, it was not surprising to see a double-decker New York Times headline with this kind of content:
Archbishop Rembert Weakland, Critic of Vatican Orthodoxy, Dies at 95
In his long career, he was an intellectual touchstone for progressive Catholic reformers. But he resigned after the disclosure of a long-ago love affair.