Darcy and Father LeFarge

According to his lifelong friend, Père Renaud, who was with him at his bedside when he died, Father LeFarge’s last words were, “I have never forgotten the face of any woman, young or old, who smiled at me.”

“It could have been worse,” noted Père Renaud wryly to a friend at the gathering at the bishop’s residence after Father LeFarge’s funeral. “He could have said, ‘My God, my God, why hast though forsaken me?”

Father LeFarge was well known for making his bishops uncomfortable. In his earlier years, he had been a fond student of South American liberation theology, which doctrine posed a deep political and ethical dilemma for Rome. After a Calvados or two he would expound to his good friend on the impossibility of reconciling the ethical spectrum and the socioeconomic one — “camel through the eye of the needle” and all that.

His steadfast unwillingness to brush aside spiritual exigencies in order to absolve the wealthy of their various peccadilloes to the pecuniary betterment of the church had exasperated many patient bishops. One bishop, particularly irritated, had gone so far as to hold up Christ as an example of what happens to someone unwilling to “make accommodations.”

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