Charles Kauthammer died last night. Two weeks ago, the Pulitzer Prize winner and political analyst announced his impending death, telling the world that he is losing a fight to cancer “with no regrets.”
I am certain that many Christians have prayed for Krauthammer’s soul since June 8. But Catholics should especially remember to pray for him now. If he’s in Purgatory, he can use the prayers. If he’s in Heaven or Hell, God will make our prayers useful for other purposes.
I make this request as just a small way of repaying Krauthammer for his impact on my life.
The Impact Of An Intellectual Giant
Krauthammer’s death struck me surprisingly deeply. While he was greatly influential on my development as a young conservative – I admired his ability to take complex issues and boil them down to their core, and I read his columns without fail for years – I only met him once. But that meeting was one of the most intellectually bracing experiences of my life.
In 2009, I interviewed to be Krauthammer’s research assistant. It was a position which normally went to graduate students. This surprisingly small man – whom I’d guess weighed no more than 140 pounds –was so disabled that he could barely fist-bump me. He was still intellectually blistering.
I hadn’t even sat down when he asked his first question. At one point, he told me the job paid $22,000 and asked if I could afford such a small salary. I told him I’d make it work. He asked me why I wanted the job. “If you like me – and you will like me,” I told him, “I want Charles Krauthammer to refer me to my next employer.” (This quote is based upon memory.)
Krauthammer could have been offended by a 23-year old’s boldness. Instead, he seemed impressed. The rest of the conversation went likewise, with me scrambling to keep up with Krauthammer’s uncompromisingly intelligent and tough interview style.
I didn’t get the job. Applications in 2011 and 2012 went unanswered. But I have always remembered that experience with great appreciation. It is what drove this piece. Krauthammer left a mark on me that I haven’t shared in several years. I don’t think I fully appreciated it until I read that he was dying.
Krauthammer: Not The Conservative You May Think
Despite my praise and respect for Krauthammer, he was not fully in line with conservative and Christian values. He did not believe in God, supported legalized abortion, backed embryonic stem-cell research, and supported redefining marriage – all things that we should all hope and pray changed before his death.
Former RealClear Religion Editor Nick Hahn wrote in 2013 that Krauthammer was raised Jewish but didn’t believe in God. That same year, Krauthammer told The Daily Caller, “There was once a philosopher who said, ‘I don’t believe in God, but I fear him greatly.’ That’s about where I am.”
Krauthammer may not have had regrets in this life, but the beliefs he espoused in 2013 mean he may have many right now. Our prayers may help reduce or eliminate those regrets.
Misleading the Masses
Krauthammer held great sway in our political media for decades. It is therefore especially dangerous that he supported the moral wrongs mentioned above.
Of these issues, Krauthammer is likely most known for backing embryonic stem-cell research while sitting on President George W. Bush’s Council on Bioethics. Krauthammer’s intellectual honesty had him cheering when “an embryo-free way to produce genetically matched stem cells” was discovered in 2007.
In 2009, Krauthammer refused to appear with President Barack Obama and other supporters of embryonic stem-cell research. Obama overturned Bush’s partial ban on federal funding for such research. Krauthammer slammed Obama for a “morally unserious” address. He accused the president of “more than moral abdication.” He also praised Bush for “the most morally serious address on medical ethics ever given by an American president,” guiding readers to Bush’s 2001 address on the subject.
But no matter how cautious Krauthammer was, he publicly and influentially backed this evil practice.
Likewise, while he opposed late-term abortion, Krauthammer wrote that he doesn’t believe that human life begins at conception. He claimed, “one’s views of the early embryo are largely a matter of belief, often religious belief.” His praise for the Catholic Church’s pro-life stance wasn’t to end legalized abortion. It was about the Church “holding up” one end of the debate because “I think our country will come to some accommodation ultimately,” and the Church’s position will have stopped “a radical legalization and radical widespread use of abortion.”
On marriage, Krauthammer called LGBT activists “heroic” in 2014, even as he critiqued the growing totalitarianism of the movement.
Pray For The Dead
Each and every one of us will face our Maker at some point. Krauthammer did that on Thursday. Many people will assume that he is resting in peace. As Catholics, we know better – such assumptions are folly. We must trust in God’s Mercy, but also pray that Krauthammer used his free will and his amazing mind to repent.