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Friday, August 20, 2004

Deal Hudson and National Catholic Reporter reports:
Deal Hudson, publisher of the acclaimed U.S. Catholic magazine Crisis and since 2000 the advisor to President George W. Bush on Catholics, has resigned his post as presidential advisor. The move came in anticipation of a smear campaign on Hudson in a just released article by the National Catholic Reporter (NCR), a weekly publication that features prominent dissidents in the Catholic Church in America.

In an article published in National Review yesterday, Hudson revealed, without naming the publication, that the smear piece was in the offing and also told of his resignation from his esteemed position. He warned that attacks would center around his past, before his conversion to a faithful practice of Catholicism. "No one regrets my past mistakes more than I do," says Hudson.

The NCR piece was issued today, with NCR editor Tom Roberts frustrated that National Review would allow Hudson a pre-emptive defense. contacted Roberts for comment on why his publication would do such a story; he refused comment directing those interested to an editorial accompanying the feature. Roberts writes that Hudson "is a public figure, seeking the spotlight and rubbing elbows regularly with the most powerful in the land . . . (who) regularly publicly denounce those whose personal behavior we think deficient (and has) the power to get someone fired for maintaining a political Web site because we disagree with its content."

The last comment about getting someone fired refers to Ono Ekeh, a former employee of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, who was relieved of his highly paid Catholic job after Hudson pointed out that he ran a Catholics for Kerry website in which he dissented from Church teaching on abortion.

Deal Hudson's actions were truly despicable and unbecoming of a man of his stature (I'm not going to link to the pornographic account; if you want the sordid details, you'll have to go to the National Catholic Reporter and read the tabloid-variety account yourself). Orthodox Catholics, particularly those who knew or were acquainted with Hudson at the time, have a right to be disappointed and hurt by his actions.

But there is a big difference, I think, between an infidelity committed a decade ago, and one committed concurrent with one's present time in office or in public service. 10 years have passed since Hudson's years at Fordham U., during which time I presume that he has repented, confessed, done penance for and made amends -- as any Catholic ought to do in the event of committing grievious sin.

Consequently, I suspect that the chief motivation behind the National Catholic Reporter's publication of Deal's past is to exact revenge for the "outing" of Ono Ekeh as a vocal supporter of a pro-abortion politician (which, like it or not, posed a liability as an employee of the USCCB), and perhaps more importantly, to remove Mr. Hudson from an influential position as Catholic advisor to President Bush.

Or perhaps one commentator at Amy Welborn's blog is on to something, in likening the Reporter's actions to a "pre-emptive strike" against Crisis magazine. According to the Reporter:

In a recent fundraising letter, Hudson pledged that Crisis would be taking "a close [emphasis in original] look at some of the bishops who are allowing their local politicians to get away with" the "deception" of calling themselves Catholic while voting for abortion rights.

"They [the bishops] are scared of him, afraid that he's going to attack them," says a leading Republican Catholic layman with close ties to the American hierarchy.

* * *

Does Hudson's past invalidate his contribution as editor of Crisis magazine? -- I honestly don't think so. Much as the Reporter (and now the New York Times) would like to discredit Hudson as a hypocrite, Fr. Rob Johansen had this to say

. . . If I do something wrong in the past, repent of it, and then speak out against similarly wrong things, that does not in fact make me a hypocrite. It is only such in the minds of those who desire at all costs to dismiss the message by discrediting the messenger.

[X]'s tactic (and that of the Catholic left) is rather like that of the teenager who, when punished by his parents for underage drinking, says "but you partied when you were my age."

Deal Hudson's misdeed illustrates not that he is a hypocrite, but a sinner. Something, as yet, he has not attempted to deny.

* * *

Finally, another commentator on Amy Welborn's blog posted the following from Gilbert Meilaender -- which, I think, is a good note to end this post:

Beginning perhaps with the generous thought that we should not "impose" on others standards that we ourselves do not meet, we end with a morality that demands less even of ourselves than we ought. The norms to which I adhere are not those I can keep or do keep; they are those to which I hold myself accountable. I do not see how I could manage that if there were not ways to recognize my accountability-if, that is, I were not part of a community that regularly confesses its sin and seeks to begin anew. Only from such a perspective, I suspect, could I have the courage to set forth an ideal of which I myself may often fall short.

-- Gilbert Meilaender, On Bringing One's Life to a Point First Things 47 (November 1994): 31-35.

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