Recognized officially as the first victim of the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center Towers, Father Mychal Judge was a Franciscan who served as chaplain for the New York Fire Department. He was killed (if I'm not mistaken) by falling debris from one of the collapsing World Trade Center towers. Much has been said of Father Judge, including reports that he was gay (in orientation, not practice). His sexuality was discussed in the 2006 documentary The Saint of 911, which chronicles major events of his life, and includes interviews with colleagues and other individuals who knew him personally.
I know many bloggers have written extensively on Father Judge (especially right after his death as reports of his life began to surface) both in favor and in condemnation of the late priest. Some Catholic authors have thrown in their two cents on this subject matter and vigorously denied Father Judge was gay. These authors allege that Father Judge's life is being commandeered by gays and lesbians to promote their agendas and political objectives. Others, however, have supposedly given proof that Father Judge was gay by submitting excerpts of entries he made in his journals. He also supposedly revealed the true nature of his sexual orientation to friends and colleagues who were close to him. By all accounts, Father Judge remained faithful to his sacerdotal vows of celibacy and remained chaste to the last minute of his life.
I was hesitant to write this post simply because individuals like Father Judge have become a cliche poster child for Catholic controversy. Regardless of the benevolence and authenticity one detects in his life, it's almost impossible to avoid recognizing that his time on earth is celebrated more by a politically correct caucus than by any faithful Catholic coterie. When the name of Father Judge is brought up for discussion, those sources who are vehemently anti-Catholic diminish their quasi-misanthropy for all things Catholic without actually appreciating that Father Judge was Catholic as well. Perhaps they regard him as their type of Catholic.
I recently came across this image again, which is what triggered this post:
In this picture - which still moves me 9 years after the September 11th attacks - I'm assertively reminded of what I would describe as the inherent fragility of the human sinner. In this final image, Father Judge's politics, right's and wrong's, flaws and weaknesses have all come to an abrupt and violent end, and are devoid of the rigor and fervor that may have caused other people to dislike him. Gay or straight, regardless of who he was, in this picture he seems so fragile, so human, so surrendered, and so broken by the unspeakable evil that lurks inside the worst of human nature.