Sed Contra: I Don’t Get It

Deal W. Hudson
April 1, 2003

For years the Vatican has been fighting the United Nations. Through its status as a full member of international conferences, the Holy See Mission to the UN has aggressively, but diplomatically, opposed the “population control” policies of the UN bureaucracy and its member nations.

Led by the former UN nuncio Archbishop Renato Martino (now president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace) and former Vatican diplomat John Klink, the Vatican has aligned itself with Muslim and Catholic countries to fight the pro-abortion language of innumerable UN conferences over the past 15 years, including the Cairo population conference and the Beijing women’s conference. Most recently the United States, with Klink as an appointed U.S. delegate at a population conference in Bangkok, succeeded in clarifying in an official reservation that the United States does not accept UN abortion language.

Since President George W. Bush’s election, the United States has reversed former president Bill Clinton’s pro-abortion policies and has fully supported the Vatican’s anti-abortion and pro-family stance. The price paid by the Bush administration for its courage has been continued criticism for its “unilateralism.”

The United Nations, of course, is a large organization but contains egregious critics of Catholic pro-life and pro-family teachings such as UNFPA, UNICEF, and UNAIDS. For example, UNFPA has condemned the Church’s opposition to the abortifacient morning-after pill and has supported the so-called Catholics for a Free Choice (CFFC). More sinisterly, UNFPA continues to attempt to influence Catholic leaders to accept its population control agenda.

Diplomatic victories for the culture of life and Catholic social teaching were achieved in spite of a hostile UN aligned with pro-abortion factions, mainly radical feminist groups, from around the world. It came as no surprise when CFFC began to clamor for the elimination of the Vatican’s permanent observer status. Without the Vatican’s presence at the UN and its international conferences, the pro-abortion forces would be free to mandate abortion as an acceptable policy worthy of government funding and bureaucratic machinery throughout the world.

So who would have thought the Vatican would start looking to the UN as a moral authority, especially on judgments regarding specific Catholic principles? And yet, this appears to now be the case. Does Cardinal Laghi, the papal envoy sent to meet with President Bush last month, really want to designate the UN as the only body capable of determining the justice of the Iraq war?

Over these past few months, comments from members of the Curia have set a dangerous precedent. They have said that the approval of the UN Security Council must be received for any country to wage a just war against another country. But the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches something different: It’s the responsibility of a nation’s political leadership, using their individual prudence, to decide whether a war is justified. A nation is not bound by the collective judgment of other nations or the judgment of an international organization unless that nation has agreed to compromise its autonomy, which the United States has not.

I think it’s imperative that Vatican officials make it clear when they are speaking as a nation with a foreign policy and when they are speaking as a Church making a doctrinal judgment. This distinction is rarely invoked, and the media is either unaware of it or chooses to take advantage of the confusion. The Vatican as a nation has the right and duty to pursue a foreign policy and to carry on diplomatic negotiations; these actions should be scrupulously distinguished from its social teaching.

What I would respectfully ask the Curia to consider is whether these internationalist assumptions aren’t giving the UN a level of moral credibility that will backfire on the Church. Isn’t it better, given the well-known disposition of the UN, for Catholics to continue regarding it with skepticism? Why give the UN any moral leverage when it will certainly use it against us one day? Many Catholics I know have labored mightily to counteract the damage done by UNFPA around the world, and now the Vatican seems to be saying, “On population issues, the UN can’t be trusted, but on whether a war is just, its judgment is impeccable.”

I just don’t get 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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