Good­bye to a Wash­ing­ton Leg­end and a Great Friend

Cherokee County Herald - - VIEWPOINTS -

When I set out to write about my friend Kate O’Beirne, it’s hard to avoid hy­per­bole. In my phone’s ad­dress book, she’s listed KATE THE GREAT. So, let me tell you about KATE. Be­cause in the way she died, she put one fi­nal spot­light on what’s most im­por­tant in life.

Kate O’Beirne, first of all, died on April 23, which hap­pened to be Divine Mercy Sun­day this year — a rel­a­tively new feast day in the Catholic Church trea­sured by Pope Fran­cis, Pope Bene­dict and John Paul II. Three years ago, on the same feast day, Kate and I were in Rome with mu­tual friends. As al­ways, there was a peace and grace and wis­dom and wit about Kate that I prayed I might catch through os­mo­sis.

Kate was some­one who tried to make the world bet­ter for oth­ers, start­ing with the per­son right in front of her or the per­son stand­ing on the cor­ner or the one sit­ting quiet at the meet­ing ta­ble. She reached out to peo­ple who needed a lot of help and those who just needed a smile. She gave when­ever the op­por­tu­nity pre­sented it­self, and looked for ways to cre­ate such an op­por­tu­nity wher­ever she went.

Kate was per­haps best known for be­ing the Wash­ing­ton editor of Na­tional Re­view and a pan­elist on CNN’s “Cap­i­tal Gang.” But to so many of us blessed to know her off the page or screen, she was a source of ad­vice, sup­port and ideas galore.

There was some­thing dif­fer­ent about the way Kate chose to ex­press her con­ser­va­tive, of­ten con­tro­ver­sial, views. She’d ar­tic­u­late and de­fend them with sub­stance, grace, wit and wis­dom. She treated peo­ple as hu­man be­ings, not op­pos­ing talk­ing points. So, she es­tab­lished and main­tained long-term re­la­tion­ships that grew into friend­ships, that made her views more com­pelling, but even more im­por­tantly, in­spired and helped peo­ple see the beauty of the Catholic faith, which was the treasure of her life, along with her fam­ily.

This de­spite — or be­cause of — be­ing the au­thor of a book called “Women Who Make the World Worse and How Their Rad­i­cal Fem­i­nist As­sault Is Ru­in­ing Our Schools, Fam­i­lies, Mil­i­tary, and Sports.” I say “de­spite” be­cause the book cer­tainly puts fem­i­nism as we con­ven­tion­ally know it on the de­fen­sive. But I put “be­cause of” be­cause, in many ways, it is of the same spirit. If fem­i­nists truly be­lieve in em­pow­er­ing women, they’d re­joice in the ex­am­ple of Kate O’Beirne — pro-life, sup­port­ive of the tra­di­tional fam­ily, and de­ter­mined to make peo­ple see that woman are com­plex, bril­liant and able to think for them­selves.

Kate’s book ex­posed the “mod­ern women’s move­ment” as “to­tal­i­tar­ian in its meth­ods, rad­i­cal in its aims and dis­hon­est in its ad­vo­cacy.” As she lays out her case — which was pub­lished in 2006 and stands the test of time — she shines an au­thor­i­ta­tive and moth­erly light, to stop the blood­let­ting in a cul­ture that tends to pour salt onto open wounds and add mis­ery upon mis­eries.

Her book is also re­splen­dent with gratitude. “(L)ong be­fore (the Na­tional Or­ga­ni­za­tion of Women) held its first or­ga­ni­za­tional meet­ing, there were fe­male role mod­els who ex­em­pli­fied ini­tia­tive, in­tel­li­gence and in­de­pen­dence. Amer­ica’s first large net­work of pro­fes­sional women was Catholic nuns. In the 1900s, they built and ran the coun­try’s largest pri­vate school and hos­pi­tal sys­tems. These women were nurses, teach­ers — and CEOs.” She would have loved that the Wash­ing­ton Post took the hint and men­tioned these trail­blaz­ers in the first para­graph of their obituary of Kate.

In re­cent years, she spent more of her time with her beloved fam­ily and trea­sured her time with her grand­chil­dren par­tic­u­larly. She was awed by their beau­ti­ful per­son­al­i­ties and sen­si­tive souls. Once de­scribed in a news­pa­per col­umn as the “creme de la creme of Wash­ing­ton in­sid­er­dom,” she was ev­ery bit the same. You may have en­coun­tered her sharp po­lit­i­cal anal­y­sis, but what was life-chang­ing was her con­fi­dent, ra­di­ant faith. That was her great­est of many great gifts. And as she lay in her hos­pi­tal bed in her last hours, although she could not speak, the mes­sage was clear: All is gift, all is grace. Make the world bet­ter and fall into the arms of the cre­ator who made all that is good in love. And so she did and has.

Kathryn Jean Lopez is se­nior fel­low at the Na­tional Re­view In­sti­tute, editor-at-large of Na­tional Re­view On­line and found­ing direc­tor of Catholic Voices USA. She can be con­tacted at klopez@na­tion­al­re­view.com.

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