The Good News about Our Bishops

Deal W. Hudson
June 25, 2009

For those who may be lamenting the seeming resurgence of the Catholic Left in the Age of Obama, I would like to point out some good news: This year’s spate of bishops’ assignments have been quite heartening. Since the beginning of 2009, there have been ten appointments announced by the Vatican. All of them should be encouraging to those who grumble about the “bishops this” and the “bishops that.”

Just as encouraging should be the record number of bishops who were outspoken during the presidential campaign in defense of unborn life, and those who publicly criticized Notre Dame for honoring President Barack Obama.

Of course, this new spirit of activism among the bishops is not good news to everybody. David O’Brien of Holy Cross tried to spin a theory about why many other bishops remained silent during the Notre Dame flap: “Their most recent engagements with politics sharpened divisions within the Church and left the bishops shaken, even embarrassed.” O’Brien hoped that the bishops’ conference, meeting in San Antonio last week, would put away their “shrill tone,” “make a new start,” and “build on hope, not fear.”

Dan Gilgoff, at his very fine “God & Country” blog at U. S. News & World Report, was prompted by O’Brien’s article to ask whether one could, in fact, claim that a “silent majority” of the bishops support Obama. Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, responded to Gilgoff’s question by saying, “The real story here is not that most [bishops] said nothing, it’s about the 80 or so who spoke out. In my 16 years in this job, I have never seen that many bishops go public about an issue like this.”

I agree with Donohue completely. The same thing could be said for the record number of bishops who spoke out during the 2008 presidential campaign on subjects ranging from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and then-Sen. Joe Biden on St. Augustine and “Faithful Citizenship,” to the question of whether a Catholic can vote for a pro-abortion candidate in good conscience. As Donohue added, “We have more bishops willing to speak out now on matters that conservative Catholics want them to address that we’ve seen in a very, very long time.”

As it turned out, the bishops’ meeting in San Antonio did not go as O’Brien had hoped. The bishops did not ignore the Notre Dame scandal – they took the opportunity to show their corporate support of Bishop John D’Arcy of Fort Wayne-South Bend, who refused to attend the Notre Dame commencement for the first time in his 24 years as bishop. His fellow bishops wrote:

The bishops of the United States express our appreciation and support for our brother bishop, the Most Reverend John D’Arcy. We affirm his pastoral concern for Notre Dame University, his solicitude for its Catholic identity, and his loving care for all those the Lord has given him to sanctify, to teach and to shepherd.

What’s more, the bishops’ appointments of 2009 thus far suggest there will be more strong leadership in the future. As you look at the list, bear in mind that five are archbishops and four of the dioceses – New York, Detroit, New Orleans, and St. Louis – are among the most influential in the nation.

There’s still plenty of good news in the Church today… if you know where to find it.

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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