RIP Jude Dougherty
Jude Patrick Dougherty (1930-2021), the legendary dean of the Catholic University of America (CUA) School of Philosophy, was buried on Monday. He was the first layman to hold that post, succeeding the equally legendary Msgr. John K. Ryan in 1966, a year after the close of Vatican II and at a troubled time in the Church and the world. It was a near miracle that, despite the turmoil inside and outside the university, he was able to hold the School of Philosophy on a basically steady course – a Catholic course that remained close to the great neo-Thomist tradition, but also actively engaged modern philosophical currents, without losing its footing.
I’m not sure how I met Jude – it was decades ago now. But he had a rare way of making friends and welcoming people – notably in 1976 a then-obscure bishop of Krakow named Karol Wojtyla whom he invited to lecture at CUA and remained friends with throughout his long papacy. In 1999, St. JPII made him a Knight of the Order of St. Gregory for his many services to the Church.
But his hospitality embraced multitudes, even young people just starting out, as I was back then. In several ways, I think it was partly his influence, not intentionally but indirectly, that kept me from being tempted to go down a Washington political rabbit hole at the think-tank where I was working. Such personal influence is hard to gauge, but for me – and I know for many others – it certainly existed and made a difference.