Another Bishop Addresses the Election and Sows Confusion

Deal W. Hudson
September 11, 2016

Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger of Albany has published a column on the election, “We hold these truths: On the founders of our country and today’s Catholic voters.”  I must admit my expectations were set very low when I read the first line, “A surefire way of demonstrating the existence of universal truths is to consult common experience.”  I had the sinking feeling that whatever was going to be said about the election would, well, lean more toward “common experience” than “universal truths.”

And, sadly, I turned out to be right.

What little was said about the election is contained in the paragraph below. First, the bishop recommends “a good consultation with one’s conscience.” But what follows certainly doesn’t help a Catholic who wants to take his advice seriously. A “good consultation” would require a proper ordering of the Church’s view of moral issues. Bishop Scharfenberger uses the kind of phraseology that has now become standard among the bishops and the state Catholic conferences, a wording that uses the conjunction “and” to indicate that all the moral issues contained in the sentence have equal moral importance. Note the phrase in italics:

“As this important presidential election looms, a good consultation with one’s conscience is in order, especially for Catholics who have a very rich tradition of moral and social teachings which not only affirms these fundamental rights, but also place them in wide and rich contexts like the issues of the sanctity of human life, religious liberty, public order, the freedom to move and migrate, the right to personal ownership and the commensurate good stewardship of goods and resources so that all humanity will enjoy the benefits of our common home in God’s creation.”

Thus, Bishop Scharfenberger fails to underscore the preeminence of the abortion issue in an election that will determine whether or not Hillary Clinton and all her Planned Parenthood pals will run our country.  There’s no need to dwell on Hillary’s love affair with abortion, as it has been documented thoroughly elsewhere.

Just guess what “rights” are presented — the connective “and” — as being of the same importance as abortion: “the freedom to move and migrate.” For the Catholic bishops, the presidential election of 2016 is first and foremost about immigration, the life issue, as I have said earlier, just doesn’t matter to them.

Elsewhere in the column, the bishop provides a clue to the source of his confusion. He asks whether “we need the [Ten] commandments to teach us” that stealing, coveting, and bearing false witness is wrong. Bishop Scharfenberger, having already expressed his confidence in “common experience,” argues,

“Yet, even without legislation, I would submit that there is something in the core of every rational being of sound mind — we commonly call it “conscience” — that can detect and discern what is right and what is wrong….”

Yes, Catholics do affirm the natural law, but this particular election, I would argue, needs the kind of immediate clarity that one can gain from one of God’s Commandments, specifically, the Fifth:

“Thou shalt, not murder” (Exodus 20:3).

The bishops keep coming back to the need for a “well-formed” conscience, but doesn’t the shepherd spell it out for his sheep on the eve of the 2016 election? “Abortion is murder, and regardless of what a “good consultation” with consciences may reveal, it cannot ignore the fact that Hillary Clinton is promoting abortion/murder as a major part of her public policy.

I was especially saddened when Bishop Scharfenberger extolled, at length, the greatness of our Declaration of Independence and its “unalienable rights” of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The bishop made a point of explaining that “unalienable” means something that cannot be taken away. Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine have done precisely that, as politicians, they have denied the unalienable right to life, and will continue to do so if they are elected on November 7.

Why would Bishop Scharfenberger, or any bishop, remain silent about what is so obvious to so many faithful Catholics?

By Deal Hudson

Deal W. Hudson was born November 20, 1949 in Denver, CO, to Emmie and Jack Hudson, both native Texans. Dr. Hudson had an older sister Ruth, and eventually, a younger sister, Elizabeth. Emmie Hudson, Ruth Hudson and Elizabeth Hudson now live in Houston, TX; Jack Hudson passed away some years ago. The late Jack Hudson was a captain for Braniff Airlines in Denver at the time of Dr. Hudson’s birth. Later the family moved to Kansas City when his father joined the Federal Aviation Agency. From Kansas City, the Hudson family moved to Minneapolis, then to Massapequa, NY, and finally to Alexandria, VA, where they first occupied a home overlooking the Potomac River adjacent to the Mount Vernon estate. After a year, the family moved to a home on Tarpon Lane a few houses up the street from the Yacht Haven boat docks. Dr. Hudson attended Mt. Vernon Elementary School from grades 4 to 6 and has a special gratitude for the teaching of Mr. Hoppe who first told him was a ‘smart lad.’ Having moved with his family to Fort Worth, TX in 1960, Dr. Hudson attended William Monnig Junior High and Arlington Heights HS. In high school, Dr. Hudson was captain of the golf team, editor of the literary magazine (Guerdon), and performed the role of Peter in the ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ during his senior year. Dr. Hudson graduated cum laude with a major in philosophy from the University of Texas-Austin in 1971 where his undergraduate advisor was Prof. John Silber. His teachers at the University of Texas included Prof. Louis Mackey and Prof. Larry Caroline. Dr. Hudson minored in both classics and English literature. Dr. Hudson lived in Atlanta from 1974-1989, where he attended Emory University, receiving a Phd from the Graduate Institute for the LIberal Arts. He also taught philosophy at Mercer University in Atlanta from 1980-89. In 1989 Dr. Hudson and his family left Atlanta when he was hired to teach philosophy at Fordham University in the Bronx. Dr. Hudson taught at Fordham, and also part-time at New York University, from 1989 to 1994. Dr. Hudson first came to Atlanta in after graduation from Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS) with an M.Div. While at PTS, Dr. Hudson managed the Baptist Student Union at Princeton University and became its first director. Dr. Hudson also was licensed at a minister in the Southern Baptist Convention at Madison Baptist Church in Madison, NJ. Dr. Hudson’s primary area of study at PTS was the history of Christian doctrine which he pursued with Dr. Karlfried Froelich. In 1984 Dr. Hudson was received in the Catholic Church by Msgr. Richard Lopez, with the special permission of Archbishop Thomas A. Donnellan, at the chapel of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cancer Home in Atlanta. Dr. Hudson has been married twenty-five years to Theresa Carver Hudson and they have two children, Hannah Clare, 23, and Cyprian Joseph (Chip), 15, adopted from Romania when he was three years old. The Hudson family has lived in Fairfax, VA for more than fifteen years, after having lived five years in Bronxville, NY and a year in Atlanta, GA, where Theresa and Deal were married.

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