Sed Contra: John Paul the Great

Deal W. Hudson
November 1, 1997

It has been a great privilege to edit the pages that follow. Imagine having dozens of reflections on our Holy Father, written by the best Catholic minds of our age, with which to arrange a fitting tribute to this Man of the Century. We at Crisis dedicate this issue to him for what his leadership, in fifty years as a priest and nineteen as pope, have meant to the Church.

“Courage” is the word that came up most often in the contributions to our symposium on the papacy of John Paul II. “Be not afraid,” he told us at the beginning of his reign, and fearlessness has characterized his nineteen-year pontificate. John Paul II has shown us that courage combined with wisdom can move what seems immovable. He did not set his course with studied calculation for satisfying the predictions of professional pundits. The man who discovered his vocation under the shadow of Nazi occupation has no fear of wrathful elites anxious to protect the prerogatives of their delusional autonomy.

Courage, as we all learned in school, is the willingness to do good in the face of danger, even death. Courage does not cling to comfort. Courage does not blindly assert itself but pursues its object with clarity of purpose. Courage can be costly, but it can be glorious. How many men would so generously forgive their own paid assassin? The courage of our Holy Father has enlarged the limits of the possible for all of us. Before John Paul II many assumed we were destined to suffer a gradual eclipse of orthodox Catholicism, but he has shown us the way to evangelize in modernity: Call God’s people back to the simple truths that anchor our faith, the truths that everyone, in spite of their complaints, is hungry to hear.

He has taught Catholics once again to think beyond the headlines, to retain their confidence in the restless heart of mankind, and to serve the deepest needs of the human heart rather than the manipulators of popular opinion. In doing so, John Paul II has given us the agenda for the next century, and strong and effective tools to implement it.

Nothing could be more fitting that this pope leading us toward the next millennium. Unmoved by fanatics awaiting the end times, John Paul quietly but firmly instructs us to reflect upon the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He directs us, for the sake of renewal, to ponder the foundations of our faith. He ignores those who place their bets on ideological solutions to human problems. John Paul II knows that wisdom, like courage, comes from constant prayer: a prayer in union with the Church and the communion of saints. Confident in the power of that prayer, the Holy Father’s example is our shield from the spiritual exotica of our time.

Professional dissenters in the Church are already trying to label this papacy an aberration in the development of a “new” church. Despite his great popularity, there remains a constant undertone of criticism towards John Paul’s papacy in the mainstream media. It is often insinuated that John Paul II is overly traditional, even reactionary, in his affirmation of the Church’s authority and moral teaching. For example, the declaration that the Church has no authority to confer priestly ordination on women has been dismissed as a mere delaying tactic in the inexorable march toward a redefinition of the priesthood. In addition, his writings on sexual morality, his devotion to Mary, and his rejection of liberation theology are regarded as out-of-step with the Church emerging from the reforms of Vatican II. Our symposium contributors respond to this question: Is the leadership of the Holy Father merely holding back the tide of inevitable changes in the form and content of the Catholic faith, or do you envision a different future?

Like so many lay initiatives obedient to the Magisterium, Crisis was born just after Karol Wojtyla was elected Bishop of Rome. The late ’70s was a time of great uncertainty for Catholics: old institutions, co-opted by activists more interested in carrying out the social agendas of the ’60s, lost sight of the Church’s perennial work. The Holy Father’s papacy has strengthened the visibility of the invisible Church. The Catechism, the Code of Canon Law, his unmatched series of letters and encyclicals: all these great gifts to the Church will continue to bear their fruit. New institutions—colleges, publications, associations—born in the era of John Paul the Great, are now coming to maturity as leaders of the Catholic faithful. The next generation will deliver a wake-up call to the secularized Catholic establishment: the period of willful cooperation with the culture of death is over.

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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