Sed Contra: The Coming Test

Deal W. Hudson
April 1, 2004

This summer in Boston the Democratic Party will formally nominate a pro-abortion Catholic, Senator John Kerry, as its candidate for president. This is the man who went out of his way during the primary to identify himself as the most pro-abortion of all the candidates.

When asked what his first act as president would be, Kerry replied that he would repeal the Mexico City Policy. (The policy ensures that federal money is not spent on abortions either at military bases or in population control programs around the world. It was the first presidential act of George W. Bush.)

Already, Kerry has tried to wrap himself in the mantle of another president—John F. Kennedy—who famously declared in his 1960 campaign that if he were elected, he would not be controlled by the Vatican. But Kerry is, as they say, no John F. Kennedy: It’s one thing to divorce one’s religious faith from public duties and quite another to pledge that one’s first act in office will be to oppose the Church’s most fundamental moral teaching— the protection of innocent life.

The example of Kennedy opened the doors for a generation of Catholic politicians who have kept their faith in the closet. The worst offenders have become household names: Senator Ted Kennedy, Congressman Rev. Robert Drinan, S.J., Governor Mario

Cuomo, Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro, Justice William Brennan, and Justice Anthony Kennedy. But they’re hardly the only ones. Of the 150 Catholic members of the Senate and House of Representatives, more than 70 have pro-abortion voting records. That is the direct legacy of Kennedy’s public disavowal of his Catholic faith.

In the past few years, lay Catholics and their bishops have begun confronting “Catholic” politicians who brazenly ignore the fundamental moral and social teachings of their Church. With the leadership of Bishops Weigand, Burke, Cupich, Chaput, Keleher, Sheehan, Hughes, and Morlino—and the eloquent “Doctrinal Note” on political participation by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger—the tide has been slowly changing.

The arrival of homosexual marriage is yet another wake-up call to faithful Catholics absent from the public arena. (Is it any accident that the first same-sex marriages have occurred in Massachusetts and California where there are so many Catholics and such lax leadership?) And now, along comes Kerry promising to make abortion as widely available as possible—even using your tax money to offer it. What will America’s Catholics do?

Just as the Kennedy election shaped Catholicism in politics in the last 50 years, so too will the Kerry candidacy be an indicator for the next half-century. If U.S. Catholics vote in large numbers for Kerry, the message to present and future Catholics will be clear: You don’t need to believe in or act on Church teaching in public life; Catholics don’t care whether you’re faithful or not.

Catholics make up approximately 30 percent of those who vote in national elections. They are a powerful swing vote, especially in states with large numbers of electoral votes such as Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio, Illinois, and California. It took Bush winning 10 percent more of the Catholic vote than Robert Dole in 1996 to barely beat Al Gore. The loss of the Catholic vote to Kerry would be disastrous to Bush’s reelection.

Kerry supporters are counting on this. Already a “Catholics for Kerry” organization has been created, its moderator a man named Ono Ekeh who—until recently—was an employee in the Secretariat for African American Catholics for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. This exemplifies our main political problem: Why should any political candidate seek Catholic support when he or she cannot be sure what we stand for?

In the past, Catholics have lacked political power because they’ve either ignored or apologized for the central tenets of their faith. In November 2004, we’ll see if that sad fact remains true.

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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