Richard John Neuhaus--the Roman Catholic conservative social critic, author, founder and editor-in-chief of First Things--has died this morning in New York at the age of 72. He was diagnosed with a serious cancer over Thanksgiving of 2008, but over Christmas became seriously ill with a systemic infection. He entered the hospital the day after Christmas.
Here are some of the key years and events in his life
1936: Neuhaus was born and raised in Pembroke, Ottawa, Canada, one of eight children. His father, an American, was a Missouri Synod Lutheran minister.
1950: Neuhaus leaves home at the age of 14.
1960: Ordained as a Lutheran pastor, Neuhaus served in the 60s as pastor of St. John the Evangelist Lutheran Church, a largely black congregation in Brooklyn. He was a self-described "revolutionary," protesting the Vietnam War and advocating for other progressive causes.
1973: The Roe v. Wade decision causes Neuhaus to abandon his political liberalism activism in order to become a conservative.
1984: Co-founds and becomes the first director of the Rockford Institute’s Center on Religion and Society. Publishes his book, The Naked Public Square: Religion and Democracy in America.
1988: US News & World Report's survey lists him as as one of the 32 most influential intellectuals in America.
1990: 30 years after becoming a Lutheran pastor, Neuhaus converts to Catholicism at the age of 54. He was ordained as a priest a year later. (Here's a letter to Lutherans explaining his conversion, and here's an autobiographical essay he published in First Things, originally delivered at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana.)
1990: Neuhaus founds First Things--an ecumenical journal, published by the Institute on Religion and Public Life, "whose purpose is to advance a religiously informed public philosophy for the ordering of society."
1994-1995: Neuhaus publishes the controversial document he co-edited with Chuck Colson entitled Evangelicals and Catholics Together.
2005: Time Magazine names Neuhaus one of the "25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America" (even though he is not an evangelical).