Matt C. Abbott
I emailed my April 29, 2020 Catholic Exchange article “The Haunting Unsolved Murder of Fr. Kunz” (which contains a wonderful reflection by Father Richard Heilman) to various Catholic bishops and priests.
Readers may recall that on the morning of March 4, 1998, the staunchly pro-life Kunz, a canon law expert who celebrated the Traditional Latin Mass as well as the Novus Ordo Mass, was found brutally murdered in the hallway of the school attached to his parish, St. Michael, in Dane, Wis. His throat had been cut.
Several prominent clergymen responded to my email and article as follows.
- Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark, New Jersey : “I read with interest your article on the unsolved murder of Father Alfred Kunz. I hope your work helps bring his murderer to justice.”
- Bishop Donald J. Hying of Madison, Wisconsin : “Thank you very much for writing this and sharing it with me. The unresolved nature of Father’s murder leaves troubling questions but his legacy is one of spiritual fruit and conversion, I believe.”
- Bishop Joseph Perry of Chicago, Illinois : “Thanks for this. Fellow canon lawyers and I remember our collaboration with Father Kunz over the many years and how upset we were and have been with his unsolved murder. Thanks too for the profound reflection of Father Heilman. His message still rings with relevance.”
- Bishop Robert Barron of Los Angeles, California : “Interesting story. I knew nothing about this poor murdered priest. I taught Rick Heilman at Mundelein Seminary and remember him fondly. The von Hildebrands were, of course, right about the loss of the supernatural.”
- Bishop Richard F. Stika of Knoxville, Tennessee : “Very sad article. The year I entered seminary in 1979, an elderly priest was robbed and killed by two teenagers. He was the longtime pastor of the Shrine of St. Joseph in St. Louis. It was a church in great disrepair and the place of a recognized miracle. Now it is restored and stunning! May they both [the St. Louis priest and Kunz] be at peace. Blessings and again thanks for sharing!”
- Archbishop Bernard Hebda of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota : “I remembered [Kunz’s] story in broad brushstrokes….I’m a fan of Father Heilman from his work on Relevant Radio and in men’s ministry, and I deeply appreciate the point he expressed in his reflection....These are challenging times in the world, in the Church, and in the archdiocese.”
- Father James Martin, S.J. : “May he rest in peace.”
I truly appreciated hearing back from these clergymen — a few of whom, I might add, almost certainly would not agree with some of the commentaries I’ve written, and may continue to write, over the years.
Another reflection comes from Catholic attorney Peter B. Kelly, who was a friend of Kunz:© Matt C. Abbott
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