CATHOLIC OUTREACH AND THE CLERGY: What Happens From a Layman’s Point of View

Deal W. Hudson
June 24, 2016

I am giving a presentation tonight, and I thought I would share my outline with TCR readers.

What Happens From a Layman’s Point of View

An Outline

Deal W. Hudson

  1. Good-will, but naive, Catholic laypersons go to one of their priests to talk about supporting “pro-life” in the election only to be rebuffed, either outright, or with a lecture about social justice, or with a nod of head which leads to nothing being done.
  2. These same lay Catholics then begin to talk to others in the parish only to find many are also hostile, or fear “politicizing” the church, or are worried about what “father” will think: “Have you asked Father?” they will ask.
  3. These same lay Catholics are bewildered by the fact those in the parish are not responsive to political engagement on the side of protecting life and end up doing little or nothing and becoming cynical about the Church’s commitment to life.
  4. It’s become standard practice in US parishes not to talk about abortion, especially during a campaign season, for many reasons, the most ridiculous one being the charge that to preach against abortion is a partisan activity.
  5. Those clergy who do get involved often risk being pushed back by their fellow clergy or their bishop, which includes the kind of literature they allow to be displayed on the literature racks in the church, and, of course, any sort of parish-sponsored events that connects the dots between abortion on demand and voting in an election.
  6. The bishop’s own “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” document has become so lengthy and weighted down by compromise, so-called “nuanced,” language, it can be hermeneutically spun in any direction you choose, which means it stands for nothing because it can be made to stand for anything.
  7. The worse offenders are the state Catholic conferences whose voter guides notoriously misrepresent Church teaching on settled moral issues such as abortion, marriage, euthanasia, and fetal stem cell research, and specialize in putting prudential matters on an equal par with settled ones, making each issue, say, worth 10% our of 100%, so that a pro-abortion Catholic politician can have as high, or higher, a rating as a pro-life Catholic politician.
  8. Clergy who want to be involved in pro-life politics, and want to make a real difference, must be aware of all these dynamics, first, by protecting pro-life activists and overseeing what kind of literature is displayed and what kind of ideas are being taught in the parish.
  9. Clergy must also protect those who leave voter guides in parking lots, because some clergy send ‘heavies” into the parking lot on Sundays before elections to intimidate pro-lifers out of the parking lot, by saying, “Pastor so-and-so says, ’You have to get out of here,’ or “It’s against the law to do what your doing,” in spite of the fact that the pastor does not have that authority, and it’s not against the law.
  10. Clergy should affirm the fact that is obliged to participate politically despite their ordination, and are obliged to participate as clergy by teaching authentic Catholic doctrine, and as individuals by supporting the party and candidates of their own choosing.
  11. Almost everything I have said in the ten points above is understated, no kidding!

Author’s note: I have directed two Catholic outreach efforts for a presidential candidate, George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004. I have also advised a variety of other pro-life candidates in their election efforts.  Most of what I know can be found a book written a few years ago, Onward Christian Soldiers: The Growing Political Power of Catholic and Evangelicals in the United States (Simon and Schuster, 2010)

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.

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: