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Archbishop Chaput pays tribute to slain federal judge

Catholic World News - January 13, 2011

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver has paid tribute to US District Court Judge John Roll, who was slain during the January 8 shooting in Arizona that left six dead and at least a dozen wounded, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

The federal judge began to correspond with Archbishop Chaput after his wife, Maureen-- “a veteran of crisis pregnancy counseling”-- heard the archbishop preach the homily at the Red Mass in Phoenix in 2008. Archbishop Chaput recalls:

Roll was devoted to St. Thomas More and kept a biography of the saint on a table near his desk. He liked mentoring young Christian attorneys because he believed their faith gave them a better moral foundation for the vocation of law. For [Aaron] Martin and for Judge Roll’s other clerks, “he was more of a father figure than a boss. He knew our families, and he always wanted to hear the news about them”…

John Roll was, finally, a man of unusual personal graciousness. Despite their political differences, Judge Roll and Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, a Democrat, had a cordial relationship of mutual respect. Giffords sought more resources for the court system, and Judge Roll was grateful. Precisely because of their differences, Roll tried to greet Giffords at her local appearances whenever he could. On the morning of his death, Roll went to Mass, and at 9:55 a.m., according to Martin, left his house to just “drop in” on Giffords’ public gathering as a courtesy, to say hello. He never came home.

This life passes. Eternity is forever. We need to act in this world accordingly, with lives of Christian service. Maureen and John Roll shared a life of quiet, powerful, authentic Catholic witness. Please keep them both, and the entire Roll family, in your prayers.

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