The Rev. Walter J. Burghardt, a Jesuit theologian who was the best preacher I ever heard, died this week at the age of 93. He preached frequently at Holy Trinity Church in Georgetown in the 1980s and 90s, celebrated at the marriage of a friend or two, and sat for an interview when I was writing a book called Catholics in Crisis.
Here's some of what the Post has to say:
Father Burghardt often criticized the restrained preaching style of his fellow priests, saying that "imagination seems to be a vestigial organ that many a Catholic priest was trained to leave in the seminary."
The flavor of his personal theology and rhetorical style can be found in his words from a 1991 interview in the Los Angeles Times.
"I agonize because in this land of milk and honey, one of every five children grows up beneath the poverty line -- and our pulpits are silent.
"I agonize because in this land of the free, blacks and Hispanics are still shackled as second-class citizens . . . and we preachers have nothing to say to their hungers.
"I agonize because thousands upon thousands of women are battered by the men who vowed to respect them, untold children are abused by the barbarians who brought them into being -- and we mouth mealy platitudes about a God who cares for everyone."