Sed Contra: Notes Toward Unity

Deal W. Hudson
October 1, 1998

Crisis has applauded the pope’s efforts to promote unity in the Church, his attempt to overcome divisions in the Body of Christ. To Orthodox, Jews, Protestants, to Catholics on the right and left, he has reached out, and his efforts, while not always successful, have born great fruit. How ironic, it seems, that those who shout the loudest about their loyalty to John Paul have not done more to initiate his commitment to unity among the faithful.

Hundreds of Catholic apostolates now exist throughout the nation, but there is little or no communication between them, making practical collaboration impossible. Even where communication exists there is often a lack of awareness concerning how we can help each other. For example, I receive regular calls from groups seeking to locate financial support. I try to explain that what Crisis can offer is a forum to tell their stories. I also urge these callers to reprint items from Crisis: “Don’t reinvent the wheel,” I tell them. “We’ve spelled out the arguments and provided the facts and analysis. Use them!” Free of charge, of course.

I’m afraid we have a long way to go in learning how to collaborate, how to take advantage of the work being done and the money being spent, and how to avoid duplication where possible.

All of this disarray plays into the hands of our critics and, more to the point, being divided makes us easy pawns to the “principalities and powers” who would subject us. Those who think it is better to work in isolation, that it encourages competition, must be reminded that is not engaged in a zero-sum game.

There is enough work and enough resources for all. Why? Because the work is global evangelization and the resources come from God himself, who will multiply the loaves and fishes to feed those who follow him in the wilderness.

There are those who might sit back and enjoy the spectacle of a hundred small organizations struggling against each other for survival, saying, “Let the cream rise to the top.” Yet this attitude overlooks both the legitimate need for these many apostolates and the advantage to be gained through their mutual recognition and cooperation.

This is not to say that Catholic organizations should join together in complicated corporate mergers or disengage from friendly competition. Rather, I submit that leaders of organizations should make time to know one another, learn about each other’s missions, and explore ways of collaboration.

The United States is a big country—we underestimate the impact that geographical size has on our ability to know what’s going on, where, and who’s doing it. I repeatedly hear about groups in one part of the country who assume they must start from scratch to fight a battle—say, the proposed removal of the tabernacle to the far corner of the sanctuary. They have no inkling that the resources and argu¬ments against that proposal already exist; the battle has been fought and won elsewhere.

Those who have studied the Catholic dissident movement come away impressed by one thing: The dissidents are organized, they share resources, they cooperate, and they have systematically targeted key institutions such as RCIA, CCD, schools, colleges, universities, and liturgical translation. Dissidents make effective use of their publications (look at the employment section of the National Catholic Reporter), the Internet, and networking conferences. While dissidents collaborate, the orthodox work in isolation and occasionally bicker over strategy.

It’s time to put an end to this; it’s time for greater unity. Not the enforced unity of a formal merger or the emotional bond formed at the foot of a charismatic leader, but the hard-headed practical ad hoc unity of persons committed to a more effective ministry.

I believe God will bless such an effort. I believe the loaves and fishes are waiting, invisibly, to be multiplied among us. We can best oppose the disintegration of our culture by acting as one body in the Spirit, engaged in a common fight for our nation’s future.

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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