Sed Contra: Catholics Take a Stand

A view of the North Portico of the White House, Wednesday June 14, 2017 in Washington D.C. (Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)

Deal W. Hudson
December 1, 2004

The Church dodged a bullet on November 2. The last thing the Church needed was an openly dissenting Catholic in the White House. By now everyone knows that Catholics voted for George Bush at the historic level of 51 percent overall and 55 percent of regular Mass attendees. This shift in political support provides further evidence of the changes in the Catholic Church in this country.

Most evident is the growing split between the John Paul II Catholics and those who fashion themselves as the true heirs of Vatican II and the papacy of John XXIII. Although informed Catholics realize that neither Vatican II nor the pope who called for it would justify the kind of open dissent from Church teaching that pours out of mainstream Catholic institutions.

In the coming years, these institutions will be openly challenged by the same legion of Catholics who threw their support to the pro-life president. Just as pro-abortion candidates are undergoing closer scrutiny and even defeat—think Senator Daschle—the parishes, colleges, hospitals, and chanceries preaching dissent will be increasingly challenged.

This has already started in small- and medium-sized dioceses where access to power structures are more readily available to Catholic activists. The urban dioceses are so entrenched and buried in bureaucracy they’ll need to be overhauled from above. And a generation of bishops is coming along who won’t be afraid to clean the stables.

Along with the challenge to Church institutions itself, this generation of lay Catholics who have been inspired by the present pope will not be intimidated by the demonization of religious belief so widespread during the campaign and in the aftermath of Bush’s election. The name-calling and labeling of Catholics and Evangelicals by the media elite has done nothing but create a formidable backlash.

Very quickly the force of that backlash was felt again in the outrage over the comments of Senator Arlen Specter regarding a litmus test for future federal and Supreme Court judges.

Some have said that the bishops are the big losers in this election—than in the failure of many of them to delineate clearly the difference between an issue like fetal stem cells and arctic drilling, they abdicated their responsibility. I respectfully disagree. The winner in this election—from a Catholic perspective—is the Catholic laity. Their unprecedented level of participation and their commitment to protecting life and marriage—as expressed through their vote—suggests that the bishops may have been doing a better job than previously thought.

Crisis Magazine has always argued that the duty of evangelizing the culture is the job of the laity. Since I came to Crisis over ten years ago, I’ve sounded that theme over and over again. Not only have I written about it and encouraged others to do it, but I’ve participated in the battle on the ground. What the laity is called to do cannot be accomplished from an armchair, even if it happens to be surrounded by the greatest books ever written. Informed Catholics must take the field, and indeed they have.

Nothing scares the old guard more than an informed and faithful Catholic laity unwilling to be intimidated into inaction by worn-out slogans and mantras. If I have learned anything over the past decade it is that information is power, and if it is widely and effectively disseminated, faithful people will be jarred to action. This is what I’ve hoped to accomplish for our country and our Church.

I pray that it is.

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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