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Sunday, September 10, 2006

Five years later: Waiting for the 9/11 Saint

Five years since 9/11. Five years since Father Mychal Judge, a Franciscan priest and FDNY chaplain, heard the report on his police and fire scanner and drove forty blocks downtown to be with his men at the World Trade Center and to wind up dead and named as the official first victim of the attack.

Mychal Judge was hailed as a living saint by politicians and Church officials alike— until a few days after his death, when gay activists declared him one of their own, a celibate yet homosexual priest whose life work had little to do with his sexuality other than aiding his ability to extend compassion to those abandoned by friends, family and even the Church they were born into.

In the months following the death of Mychal Judge, the story of his heroic last hours almost began to pale among stories of his life. And a prayer he wrote and passed on to those he met began to spread around the world:

Lord, take me where you want me to go;
Let me meet who you want me to meet;
Tell me what you want me to say
And keep me out of your way.


Thousands of people from very diverse groups were also able to declare Mychal as one of their own. Alcoholics, Irish emigrants, AIDS victims, the homeless, college students, newlyweds, suburban families, survivors of air crash victims, cops, firemen, journos and more told stories of their encounters with the wondrous man in the who’d walk across the Brooklyn Bridge in monk’s robe and sandals one day, and meet with the President the next.

In 2002, an investigation by the Tabloid Baby website led to the creation of Saintmychal.com was initially set up as a resource for documentary research, to gather information and testimony about Mychal’s life (while memories were fresh) and determine if possibly New Yorkers had their own, human, flawed, living saint walking among them.

Saintmychal.com grew beyond all expectations, with ordinary people from across America and around the world writing in to share their experiences with Mychal Judge. More than several claimed that he had performed actual miracles for them.

The evidence was there for the taking. The New York Times, USA Today and other organizations took our work and backed it up in front page stories. (Read some of the amazing articles here.)

The Roman Catholic Chuch, with hits hands full with paedophile priest payouts, ignored the obvious. As they rushed the canonization of Mother Teresa and a peasant named Juan Diego who may not have existed all, they wouldn’t touch Mychal with a ten-foot pole.

The five-year waiting period for consideration passes sometime Monday morning, so Mychal’s order is free to open the door to a canonization investigation.

Don’t count on it. But the Franciscans and their superiors in Rome should have second thoughts knowing members of their own flock say it doesn’t matter, that Mychal is already a “People’s Saint,” too good for the church that he dedicated and gave his life to.

Meanwhile, a new documentary movie about Mychal Judge is in some theatres this week. Saint of 9/11 follows the excellent British CTVC documentary, Victim 0001. It's made by some of those same gay activists and narrated by gay actor Ian McKellen. That’s fine. They, as many, claim him as their own. But don’t let the pedigree ghettoize Mychal or lead you to believe that a “people’s saint” is anything but second class.

Saint of 9/11 is bound to be a worthy documentary, the Basketball Man of hagiography. There are many more sides to Mychal Judge, and many more Mychal documentaries to come.

WTC photo by Shannon Stapleton; portraits by Michael Goldman

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

The sneering ignorance of, and the none too subtle bigotry against the Catholic Church in this piece is grossly offensive to this Catholic.

First off, the piece shows zero understanding of the process of cannonization. Please do yourself a favor and actually research a subject before you pontificate on it.

And the contradictory logic of one who harbors such resentment toward the Church is amusing. Why would one want sainthood pronounced from a church you so obviously disapprove of?

Pious said...

What bee is in Anonymous' bonnet?
I could not find "bigotry" or "resentment" in the post.

Anonymous said...

How cute. Your original article said that it was Padre Pio who may not have even existed, now it's been edited to say Juan Diego. You edited your original post and my response without so much as a note of apology, comment, or even thanks for the correction.

My thanks to you though for at least making a correction.


In the end, though, anyone who'd mistake Juan Diego for Pio in the first place, frankly, isn't qualified to comment on the cannonization process of the Church.

Let me just help you out on one point. Unless there has been a verifiable and miraculous intercession related to Father Judge then there cannot be a cannonization. Again, read and learn before you write about such serious matters.

PS, pious -- You see no bigotry or resentment in the post because you cannot see from a Catholic viewpoint. Either you are not Catholic or you are not a practicing Catholic. The entire article is presented from the point of view of modern socio-politics. That has zip zero nada to do with cannonization. And it's a mark of bigotry, resentment and sheer ignorance to reduce the cannonization process to the realm of politics.

Anonymous said...

Addendum - Postings on internet message boards and newspaper articles do not count as verifiable miracles in the cannonization process.

If these claimed miraculous intercession hold up to the standards of the Church, then I'd be the first to stand and demand cannonization for Fr Judge, a truly brave and honorable priest.

Merriam Webster said...

It's "canonization," not "cannonization."

redtown said...

God makes saints, not Rome. By the grace of God, Mychal was and is a saint.

Also, for the first millennium-plus of Church history, saints were declared by acclamation of the faithful, not by Rome. It really doesn't matter if Rome canonizes him; the faithful already have.