Archbishop Chaput writes about slain Catholic Judge John Roll. It’s a beautiful tribute to a good man:
In January 2008, at the invitation of Bishop Thomas Olmsted, I gave a homily at the annual Red Mass for attorneys, judges and public officials in Phoenix. The theme wasn’t new; I’ve said it a hundred times. So has Bishop Olmsted. So have many other bishops. But over the past weekend I dug it out and reread the homily’s last few lines:
“We’re citizens of heaven first. Our time here is limited. This life passes. Eternity is forever. We need to act in this world accordingly, with lives of Christian service to the poor and afflicted—including the unborn child, the immigrant, the homeless and the elderly. The more authentically Catholic we are in our lives, our choices, our actions and our convictions, the more truly we will contribute to the moral and political life of our nation.”
Sitting in the congregation that day was a woman named Maureen, an active and very committed Catholic, and a veteran of crisis pregnancy counseling with Tucson’s Catholic Charities. After the liturgy she moved on to the other tasks of her day, as I did mine. Except that Maureen apparently talked about the Red Mass with her spouse. And 10 months later, after the 2008 election, I got the first of several extraordinary letters from her husband—John Roll, chief judge of the federal District of Arizona; the same John Roll who died in the terrible Jan. 8 shootings in Tucson.
It’s impossible to fully know a man from correspondence alone. But each of John Roll’s letters had the same four clear marks: generosity; intelligence, largeness of spirit and a sincere love for his Catholic faith. Two days after Roll’s murder, his law clerk, attorney Aaron Martin, described to me the kind of man he was.
Roll was devoted to St. Thomas More and kept a biography of the saint on a table near his desk. He liked mentoring young Christian attorneys because he believed their faith gave them a better moral foundation for the vocation of law.