The words “Christian gentleman” have an almost quaint ring today, but in addition to being an educator, scholar, and diplomat, Ambassador Tom Melady was first and last a Christian gentleman. Fred Rotondaro recalls Tom and his many contributions to CACG, to this country and to our Church.

Ambassador Thomas J. Melady died Monday. He was the essence of a Christian gentleman. He was an academic, having served as President of Sacred Heart University among other key academic assignments, a political man in the best and most honorable sense of the word, and, of course, a diplomat of great stature. He served as ambassador to two African nations, Burundi and Uganda, and to the Vatican under President George H.W. Bush. 

We first got to know Ambassador Melady at the start of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good in 2005. We were to be an overtly Catholic progressive organization promoting Catholic social justice as determined through the ages. That was and remains our goal. 

We quickly put together a board of directors and an advisory board that would provide guidance. There was no question we wanted Ambassador Melady to join us in some capacity. Despite his extremely busy schedule, he joined our advisory board and has been with us ever since. 

Our readers have seen his byline many times as the featured column in our Common Good Forum. And he has spoken for us at seminars and various public workshops. 

I have personally had the privilege of many lunches near his 16th Street office would benefit from his wisdom and experience on a diverse range of issues. 

Tom Melady---despite his multiple titles, that was how he preferred to be called—was getting on in years when he died. Yet, he was still Senior Diplomat in Residence at the Institute for World Politics, which he had organized to study international issues and provide options from an informed and ethical viewpoint. 

In his later years, Tom took on several new causes. The first of these was the urgent need for civility in politics. He began promoting this causewell before the current political climate was created where civility is looked upon as weakness. 

Tom was a moderate Republican who worked with Republicans and Democrats. He worked well with people in both parties because he listened to their ideas and arguments. 

He lectured and wrote widely, including for the CACG, on the necessity of civility in political discourse. Without it, he would note, positions harden, ignorance takes the front stage, and public policy is stymied.

As we have noted, Tom's lifelong forte was international relations. But in the last few years, he became deeply involved with an examination of poverty in America and wrote and spoke about this sad blemish on the American dream. 

Our deepest condolences go to his wife of many ears, Margaret, and to his children. 

Ambassador Melady will be deeply missed. More than ever, we need today men and women of his wisdom, judgment and faith.

Must Reads

At National Catholic Reporter, Michael Sean Winters on the “estuary” where politics and religion meet

At the Huffington Post, Rabbi Eric Yoffie on the “Francis Phenomenon”

In the Sun-Sentinel, Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami on income inequality and the minimum wage

At America, Vincent Miller on how so many of the things we use daily involve slave conditions in their production 

At Commonweal, the editors on the need to reform the NSA

Michael Gerson, at the Washington Postreminds Tea Partyers that the founding fathers were not anti-government