Note from the author

I first met Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen in the early 1980s, just after he decided to do conscientious war tax resistance. Hunthausen inspired me just as he has so many others. How can each of us try to become a just person while living in an unjust society and in an unjust church, and how can we help to transform both religion and Society? By how he lived, Raymond Hunthausen offers some answers.

Grounded in numerous interviews with him directly and the people close to him (colleagues, friends and family), this book also includes the voices of critics. My research has included a trove of historical records — local, regional, national and international newspaper articles, as well as dissertations and other sources. This book includes the complete text of Archbishop Hunthausen’s watershed “Faith and Disarmament” speech, the 1985 confidential letter from Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (then prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith), and the two contrasting chronologies of the Seattle-Rome conflict: Rome’s version and Hunthausen’s.

I have tried to let various voices speak for themselves — supporters, as well as just detractors of Hunthausen. I set out to convey in rich social context a blend of personal biography and public history. The central objective has been to do justice to a complex biographical and sociological study involving a religious leader, accounting for the milieu within which he lived his life. I have many people and many research sources to credit, as will be seen in the extensive endnotes of each chapter. I have made conscientious efforts to provide attribution for all the diverse sources informing this work, for in so many ways the book is more a carefully researched compilation and contextualization of many voices and perspectives rather than original thought-construction of my own perspective — which I have not ignored but have downplayed. To be sure, my own background has influenced the research approach I have adopted. I cannot claim to be value free. I warmly welcome constructive critique. Do please let me know if you see errors I have made.

As to what has motivated me to pursue this study, over the course of 25 years in Catholic social justice and peace work, I had the experience of meeting several Latin American bishops involved in liberation theology. I also had the experience of working with various U.S. bishops —  on economic justice, the environment, and peace. I have seen up close the oppressive power structures of their religion and society, which U.S. bishops sometimes challenge but too often reinforce. In this context, Archbishop Hunthausen integrity and prophetic witness have been both humbling and fortifying. He did not pay the same price as Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador, but Hunthausen was inspired, like Romero, to speak truth to power.

Frank Fromherz
August 2018

About the author

Frank Fromherz

Frank Fromherz, Ph.D. was raised on an Oregon berry and dairy farm and now lives on native oak habitat-restored land near Yamhill, Oregon. He retired June 2018 from a long career as a college professor. In recent years he taught sociology of religion, sociology of peace, and sociology of war at Portland State University. He dedicated many years to Catholic social justice and peace education and action, beginning his career at Mt. Angel Seminary in 1978, teaching later at the University of Portland, and directing the Office of Justice and Peace/Catholic Campaign for Human Development for the Archdiocese of Portland (1990 – 2003).

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