The news of Paul Farmer's death on Feb. 20 has been reported widely in every major news outlet and social media feeds in many languages. The accomplishments of his extraordinary life have included words like visionary, genius, humanity's hero, a radical pioneer, fighter, poet and healer — just to name a few.
In an appreciation for NCR, Jennie Weiss Block, Farmer's spiritual director, outlines his impressive credentials, but also his exemplary reputation.
"To put it quite simply, Paul Farmer was a man of great faith who loved God wildly and with his whole heart, and he set the standard for loving his neighbor as himself," she writes.
In receiving the Blessed are the Peacemakers award from the Catholic Theological Union in 2015, Farmer told the students gathered there that "The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that's wrong with the world."
In January, Kimberly Roland opened up an email from her mother after she arrived home upset from Mass at St. Jerome Parish in Phoenix, where Roland received most of her sacraments and attended school for nine years.
The subject of the email — "Info re: Fr. Andres' baptisms announced today" — made Roland's heart sink, she writes in a commentary for NCR. That was the day that Bishop Thomas Olmsted's chancery office said the baptisms performed by Fr. Andrés Arango, who served across the Phoenix Valley for decades, were no longer considered valid. As a result, subsequent sacraments received by people having had those baptisms were now de facto invalidated.
"Does the fact that I was baptized by a laicized priest invalidate my baptism?" Roland writes. "I know the answer to that question is no, but where is the FAQ section on the diocesan website for these actually important questions we grapple with? More importantly: Does Jesus care?"
Check out our livestream event exploring the recent sacramental controversy on baptisms, featuring Kathleen Dorsey Bellow, director of the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University of Louisiana, and Jesuit Fr. Bruce Morrill, Edward A. Malloy Chair of Roman Catholic Studies at Vanderbilt University.
Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted said baptisms performed by Fr. Andres Arango during years of ministry in the diocese are invalid, and the priest resigned as pastor of a local parish. Last week, several children underwent the rite again, this time with Arango using the church-prescribed language.