Sed Contra: Looking Back, Looking Forward

Deal W. Hudson
November 1, 2004

It’s been over ten years since I took the helm of Crisis Magazine and moved my family to Washington, D.C. Since then the circulation has grown from 6,000 to over 32,000, the full-time staff from three to eleven, and the budget has more than quadrupled to nearly $2 million. More important than the numbers, however, Crisis has served the Church well, and the evidence for its influence is widespread.

The most gratifying accomplishment of the past ten years has been the ability of Crisis to impact the debate on the Catholic Church in the public square. Crisis is the most often-cited Catholic publication in the country, and its success proves that a magazine doesn’t have to boast a huge circulation to make a real difference in the culture. All it takes is a readership willing to put words into deeds.

But the time has come for me to pass the torch as publisher. While I will still do some fundraising for the magazine—the viability of Crisis depends upon your support and generosity—I have other projects to pursue, including a book I’m writing on Catholics in politics. I look forward to writing in the solitude of my home office, where I can pop up the stairs when I hear my children come home from school.

Hannah, having just turned 16, has become a lovely young woman whose every day seems like an adventure. She sings beautifully and rides horses with great confidence, but Dad needs to help her a bit more with math and science. And Cyprian—now in first grade—is facing the challenge of learning to read. During his first three years in a Romanian orphanage, he never really mastered the first language, and he needs lots of hands-on time from Mom and Dad to get him over the hump. My new role will allow me to take on more responsibility at home.

So what exactly will that new role be? Crisis is published by the Morley Publishing Group, Inc.—a non-profit corporation. I will be creating within Morley a new institute that will be charged with projects consonant with the Morley mission—to be a faithful Catholic voice in our culture. My book will be the initial focus, but other projects worthy of the institute’s attention are now appearing on the horizon.

The Morley board will soon announce an acting publisher and form a search committee to find a permanent replacement. To say I’m leaving the magazine in the capable hands of editor Brian Saint-Paul and associate publisher Raymond Matthew Wray is an understatement: They’ve been running the day-to-day operations of the office for quite a while and deserve much of the credit that I’ve received for the quality of the magazine and its growth.

As you may already know, a truly regrettable incident of mine from ten years ago was revealed by a liberal Catholic newspaper in late August. The editor of that newspaper was not shy in justifying his exposé as retaliation for what he called my “public moralizing.” I hold no grudge against that newspaper, its reporter, or editor, but I can’t deny that the story has influenced my decision to step down.

For now, however, it’s time for reflecting, writing, and catching up with life at home. I hope all of you will join me in celebrating what we’ve accomplished at Crisis. I’m genuinely grateful for having had the opportunity to serve the Church in such a public way. And please join me also in reaffirming your support for Crisis, its staff, and its mission.

With the December issue, I’ll be retiring from “Sed Contra.” And like you, I’ll eagerly await the next chapter in the extraordinary story that is Crisis Magazine.

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