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Catholic journalist Joe Sobran dies
Catholic journalist Joe Sobran, who has been called one of the best writers of our time, died Sept. 30 in Fairfax from complication of diabetes. He was 64. His columns and articles consistently defended the teachings of the Church and inspired many in the pro-life movement.
For more than 20 years Sobran wrote the weekly “Washington Watch” column for The Wanderer newspaper, had a syndicated column, and was an editor of National Review magazine. He also wrote for Human Life Review and Celebrate Life!, the magazine of the American Life League, in addition to Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture.
In 1994, he started his own monthly newsletter, “Sobran’s: The Real News of the Month,” which was published from 1994 until 2007.
Some of his pro-life essays were collected in Single Issues: Essays on the Crucial Social Questions (The Human Life Press, New York, 1983). Another book of his columns titled, Hustler: The Clinton Legacy, was published by Griffin Communications in 2000.
Sobran was an expert of the Shakespeare plays and sonnets. In 1997, The Free Press published his book, Alias Shakespeare: Solving the Greatest Literary Mystery of All Time, in which he contended that the author of Shakespeare’s works was poet and writer Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford.
His elegant literary style, coupled with his insights and reflections, led many to call him to a modern-day G.K. Chesterton. Sobran edited several volumes of Chesterton’s works for Ignatius Press, and recently wrote several Shakespeare textbooks for the publisher, Marshall Cavendish.
For many years, people would hear his distinctive baritone voice on CBS’s Spectrum. He traveled around the country giving speeches and lectures, in addition to appearing on radio and TV shows.
He also was known for short pithy quips such as: “psychoanalysts tell us that humor is a form of aggression. My own view is that psychoanalysis is a form of aggression for humorless people.” He also wrote: “Maybe I’m old-fashioned and narrow-minded but I find today’s rap stars hard to figure. No doubt yesterday’s entertainers weren’t perfect either. Still I don’t recall Perry Como trying to shoot Bing Crosby.”
Sobran moved to the Arlington Diocese from New York in 1983 and raised his family in northern Virginia. His funeral Mass was celebrated Oct. 5 by Father Paul Scalia at St. John the Beloved Church in McLean. He is the father of four and grandfather of 11, including one great-granddaughter.