There is so much to be learned from reading The New York Times, and particularly the obituaries. I will not comment on the death of Nelson Mandela, truly a man for all the ages, because there will be so much splendid–and nuanced–reflection in all the media. I am interested presently in the obituary for Alec Reid, a modest and self-effacing Roman Catholic priest who played a quiet but essential role in the historic Good Friday accords in Northern Ireland. The Prime Minister of Ireland at the time, Charles J. Haughley, regarded him as the most important person in the whole peace process between the IRA and Protestant pro-British Unionists.
Another piece in the Times interests me even more. On its recommendation I have just ordered A Miracle, A Universe by Lawrence Wechsler. It tells the story of how, in Brazil, Roman Catholic Cardinal Arns and Presbyterian leader Jaime Wright risked their lives to photograph the records that the military junta kept of their acts. They distilled a million pages of records into a narrative of the junta’s tortures, murders, and “disappearances.” I admit that I wish something like this was in the background of Pope Francis, Cardinal in Argentina during its “Dirty War.”