"You must go to the place from whence you came, there to remain until ye shall be drawn through the open City of London upon hurdles to the place of execution, be hanged and let down alive, and your privy parts cut off, and your entrails taken out and burnt in your sight; then your head to be cut off and your body divided into four parts, to be disposed of at her Majesty's pleasure."
With those words Queen Elizabeth's Lord Chief Justice dispatched the English Jesuit priest Edmund Campion to his death at Tyburn. The year was 1581. The charge was treason. Campion himself was unruffled by the verdict: "It was not our death that we ever feared. … The only thing we have now to say is, that if our religion do make us traitors, we are worthy to be condemned; but otherwise are, and have been, as good subjects as the Queen ever had."
St. Edmund Campion, martyr, lives on as a model of cheerful, gutsy, devout intelligence disciplined toward the single goal of recovering and rebuilding Catholic churchmanship where it had lain in ruins. I was amused and delighted, therefore, to learn that the Jesuit magazine America announced that it will give its 2009 Campion Award to none other than Dr. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The choice is a chancy one. Many will take offense at the sly malice of the Jesuits in pretending to congratulate the man who, by his elegant unfitness for the job, has done more than any living Christian to bolster the esteem of the Roman Catholic Church in the eyes of his co-religionists.
I emphatically applaud the editors' decision.