Ode to a Jesuit
A great priest, veteran, mentor, and public intellectual died on October 21st. Fr. Robert John Araujo, S.J. passed away at Campion Center in Massachusetts after a lengthy battle with cancer.
Fr. Araujo's career spanned several decades, but I was fortunate cross paths with Fr. Araujo during his time in Chicago as a professor at Loyola University.
We met at one of the irregular Tridentine Masses he would celebrate for the students in the Jesuit residence on campus. After a few lunches together, Fr. Araujo became a spiritual director of sorts, and I was even able to serve Mass for him. The depth of his knowledge and commitment to the faith astounded me.
Prior to joining the Jesuits, Fr. Araujo served in the Army, worked for the United States Department of the Interior, and the Law Department of The Standard Oil Company. In 1986 he joined the Jesuits and in 1997 was appointed to the Holy See's Permanent Observership to the United Nations. He also served as a professor at several Jesuit universities. Fr. Araujo published two books, contributed numerous chapters to other books, and published countless papers on law, natural law, and Catholic legal theory.
But Fr. Araujo's intellectual prowess didn't dawn on me while I was student, and I didn't quite recognize his import in the Catholic intellectual community until now. He was a member of the Catholic legal blog Mirror of Justice and stood among scholars like Rick Garnett, Robert George, and fellow Loyola professor John Breen. His writings were dense but not incomprehensible. Fr. Araujo was one of the few scholars who saw clearly -- and articulated perfectly -- the logical conclusions of Supreme Court cases like Windsor v. United States, which paved the way for the sweeping gay marriage case Obergefell v. Hodges. To wit:
Based on my earlier work in the two previous examinations of equality, I reach the conclusion in this essay that the equality argument cannot sustain the legal justification for same-sex marriage which lawyers and courts, such as the Goodridge majority, offer. In support of my conclusion, I present an argument that the equality of human beings exists at certain fundamental levels -- the most basic would be something guaranteed, albeit vaguely, in the essential equality of the multi-faceted right to be born, to live after birth, and to flourish (albeit in a variety of expressions). My approach is based on the Declaration of Independence's assertion that "all men are created equal."
This essay is from 2010 -- three years prior to the Windsor decision.
Perhpas most importantly, Fr. Araujo was a kind priest, one who knew the significance of every part of the Mass, but also understood the humanity of the people in the pews. He was a joy to converse with and to know. I join others in mourning the loss of a great mind and a great priest.
When I served Mass for him, I stumbled through it in broken Latin and stiff movements. So he gifted me the first edition of the St. Edmund Campion Missal. I still have the Missal today, and I've found it to be an invaluable resource for my spiritual growth. In time, I have come to realize that Fr. Araujo's gift was characteristic of the fact that he was always invested in the spiritual growth of his pupils, no matter who they were.
St. Thomas More once coined a great prayer: "Pray for me as I will for thee that we may merrily meet in Heaven." I ask the same of Fr. Araujo, now faithfully departed, such that we may meet again.