Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By

8/19/2009 (5 years ago)

Catholic News Agency (www.catholicnewsagency.com)

Novak died of a malignant tumor at his Washington, D.C. home on Tuesday.

Novak was known for his ability to explain the feuds and factions of American politics with the help of his many inside sources.

Novak was known for his ability to explain the feuds and factions of American politics with the help of his many inside sources.

Highlights

By

Catholic News Agency (www.catholicnewsagency.com)

8/19/2009 (5 years ago)

Published in U.S.


WASHINGTON, D.C. (CNA) - The death of Robert Novak has led many to remember the career of the expert political journalist. Some noted his conversion to Catholicism later in life, with one former colleague calling it his “most important” change of heart.

Novak died of a malignant tumor at his Washington, D.C. home on Tuesday.

One half of the Evans-Novak “Inside Report,” begun in 1963 with journalist Rowland Evans, Novak was known for his ability to explain the feuds and factions of American politics with the help of his many inside sources. For a long time he was co-host of the CNN debate show “Crossfire.”

Though a political conservative, he opposed the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. Later in 2003, he became the object of controversy for exposing the identity of a CIA agent married to retired diplomat John C. Wilson, who investigated and questioned the factual basis for the justifications of the war.

Tim Carney, a former employee of Novak, described the journalist’s late-life conversion to Catholicism as “his most important change of heart.”

“Brought up a secular Jew, and having lived seven decades as an agnostic, Novak entered the church in his 60s,” Carney wrote at HumanEvents.com. “When I went to work for him, I was considering entering the Catholic Church as well. Novak pointed me to the priests who helped answer my remaining questions and cement my faith.”

He reported that Novak told aspiring journalists to pick a different field if they aimed to change the world.

“But, by simply aiming to inform and to do his job as well he could, Novak changed the lives of his readers and those of us blessed to work with him.”

Announcing his cancer diagnosis in his final column for the Chicago Sun-Times on September 7, 2008, he said his health problems first became manifest after he hit a pedestrian with his car. Tests later showed he had lost his left-side vision.

A biopsy revealed a major tumor, leading his oncologist to estimate that he had six months to a year to live.

“Being read your death sentence is like being a character in one of the old Bette Davis movies,” Novak said. “I believe I was able to withstand this shock because of my Catholic faith, to which I converted in 1998.”

Novak went into greater detail about his faith in his 2007 book “The Prince of Darkness: 50 Years Reporting in Washington.”

Novak attended Christian services sporadically until the mid-1960s, but then stopped going to religious services for nearly 30 years.

In the early 1980s, a friend gave Novak Catholic literature after he came close to dying from spinal meningitis. Ten years later, his non-Catholic wife Geraldine persuaded him to join her at Mass at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Washington D.C.

The celebrant, Fr. Peter Vaghi, was a former Republican lawyer and adviser to Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM). He was also a former source for the Evans and Novak column.

Novak then started to go to Mass regularly and decided to convert a few years later. According to Novak, the turning point came when he visited Syracuse University in New York to lecture. Before he spoke he was seated at a dinner table near a young woman who wore a cross necklace. Novak asked her if she was Catholic, and she asked him the same.

Novak said that he had been going to Mass each Sunday for the last four years, but had not converted.

“Mr. Novak, life is short, but eternity is forever,” the woman responded, thus moving the journalist to begin studying for the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, the rite by which people learn the Catholic faith. He was baptized at St. Patrick’s in 1998. His wife was also baptized a Catholic.

Novak later recounted his conversion in an interview with a skeptical New York Times interviewer. He said he told her he believed the Holy Spirit was behind coincidences such as his former source becoming a priest.

"I consider this the only one true faith, so I believe the Holy Spirit led me to it," Novak said.

---

Founded in continued response to Pope John Paul II’s call for a “New Evangelization,” the Catholic News Agency (CNA) has been, since 2004, one of the fastest growing Catholic news providers to the English speaking world.



Comments


More U.S.

World population could hit 11 billion by 2100 new study reveals Watch

Image of Africa will see the largest population boom, going from 1 billion to 4 billion by the century's end. Asia will also likely rise a bit, but will peak at 5 billion by 2050 and decline.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A United Nations-led analysis published on September 18 has revealed that the world's population may reach 11 billion by 2100, which would mean two billion more people than previously expected, largely due to high birth rates in Africa. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


As death toll passes 2,600 U.S. lawmakers worry about spread of Ebola Watch

Image of Red Cross workers in Guinea in protective gear. Currently, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia are the worst nations worst hit by the West African Ebola outbreak.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Legislators in Washington are becoming increasingly concerned about the spread of Ebola and worry that it could become more contagious and potentially spread into the United States. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - President Obama's new plan to put 3,000 U.S. ... continue reading


Obama gains support from House to further fight against ISIS Watch

Image of President Obama, with the support of the House of Representatives, may now start arming and training Syrian groups to fight the Islamic State, and will continue to strike targets in Iraq.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

While President Barack Obama told Americans-in somewhat ambiguous terms-last week that he intended to destroy the Islamic State, as of September 17, he promised that the United States will not fight another ground war in Iraq. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


Values Voters: What We Can Learn from Ted Cruz Being Booed at the In Defense of Christians Conference Watch

Image of Senator Ted Cruz from Texas was the keynote speaker at what was billed as a Gala Solidarity Dinner. Sadly, it certainly did not demonstrate solidarity between Christians. A small group in the assembly, rudely and loudly, reacted negatively to some of the words Senator Cruz spoke as he expressed his convictions concerning the persecution taking place in this land which is properly holy, precisely because of its role in God's loving plan of salvation for the whole human race.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

The events of Wednesday, September 10, 2014, at the Inaugural In Defense of Christians Gala make abundantly clear that there is a serious and urgent need for values voters to meet and discuss the crisis in the Mideast and ways in which we can work together to ... continue reading


Our Age Need Rebels of Love: The Christian Church is the Real Counterculture Watch

Image of As a young man I rejected secularist, atheistic humanism - but not humanism itself. As I studied the early Church fathers I came to understand that the true humanism is authentic Christianity, the kind professed, in word and deed, by the early Christians. As I read early Church history I was brought back to the mother church of the entire Christian movement, the Catholic Church. I came to believe that she offers the theological anthropology, ecclesiology and world view of the early fathers of the Church. I also came to believe that she was the real counterculture.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

We can - we will - change the culture of the contemporary West, if we are willing to suffer, struggle and offer ourselves to the Lord for the task. His power, the power of the Holy Spirit, working through us, will accomplish what we can never accomplish on our ... continue reading


What is a Catholic Deacon? Bishop Kevin Rhoades Gives the Answer Watch

Image of The Most Reverend Kevin Rhoades, the Bishop of the Diocese of Ft. Wayne-South Bend, presiding over the Mass of Ordination to the Diaconate of six new Holy Cross Deacons

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

It is a privilege to ordain you permanent deacons.  No, I didn't make a mistake.  Don't worry: you are scheduled to be ordained priests next year by Bishop Jenky!  But what happens today in the sacrament of Orders is not something transitional; it ... continue reading


ISIS among us! New York man sought to kill Iraq war veterans Watch

Image of Mufid Elfgeeh, a 30-year-old, Yemeni born man who lived in New York, attempted to send three people to Iraq to fight for the Islamic State, and purchase firearms to kill veterans from the Iraq War.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A Yemeni born food store owner in upstate New York sent funding to the Islamic State and attempted to sent three jihadists to Syria to fight alongside the terrorist cell while plotting to perpetrate attacks against American troops who had served in Iraq. LOS ... continue reading


Father Frank Pavone: 16433 Children Buried in One Grave Watch

Image of Fr. Pavone prays at the graveside of the children

By Fr. Frank Pavone

For many years, this mass grave had no marker or headstone, just as the children have no names. But now there is a stone, and we are going to name the babies. Supporters of abortion do not want people to see mass graves in our midst. It's too disturbing a ... continue reading


Nice try! Democrats try to distance themselves from Obama for midterm, but it's too late! Watch

Image of Kentucky Senate candidate, Alison Grimes, seen here with a shotgun in an ad where she attempts to distance herself from the disastrous and unpopular policies of President Barack Obama.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A Democratic Senate candidate, Alison Grimes, is trying her best to let Kentuckians know that she is certainly not an Obama Democrat, releasing a campaign ad where she wields a gun to prove it. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Grimes' 30-second ad takes place in ... continue reading


Are terrorists invading the US through the open border with Mexico? Watch

Image of The Islamic State nay already have sympathizers and cells within the USA. The porous border does nothing to aid the situation.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Americans are worried that the Islamic State will soon conduct terror attacks within the U.S., inserting agents via the porous border between the states and Mexico. At least one sheriff has told the media he received an official alert while the federal government is ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Isaiah 55:6-9
6 Seek out Yahweh while he is still to be found, call ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 145:2-3, 8-9, 17-18
2 Day after day I shall bless you, I shall praise ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 20:1-16
1 'Now the kingdom of Heaven is like a landowner ... Read More

Reading 2, Philippians 1:20-24, 27
20 all in accordance with my most confident hope and ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 21st, 2014 Image

St. Matthew
September 21: St. Matthew, one of the twelve Apostles, is the author of the ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter