Will the Church Split Along Red and Blue Lines?

Deal W. Hudson
October 9, 2008

An Obama victory on November 4 is far from certain, but the momentum behind his campaign prompts me to wonder: What impact could an Obama administration have on the Catholic Church?

The Bush victories in 2000 and 2004 brought a flood of commentary on the so-called red and blue states. If Obama wins in 2008, I would not be surprised to see the emergence of a similar division among Catholics.

Many will finally realize, and admit to, the power of the political Left in their Church. This may lead to a kind of red state, blue state divide among Catholics in the United States. Such a divide could extend to the dioceses, reflecting both regional differences and the leadership of present and past bishops.

Most Catholics miss the institutionalized dissent, political liberalism, and Democratic Party alignment that exists throughout parts of the Church in this country. It exists in a network that includes parts of the USCCB and extends through chanceries, universities (especially Jesuit), Catholic organizations, and much of the Catholic media.

This network has become adept at cloaking its dissent, its political intentions, and its disdain for the agenda of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI. It’s a well-chronicled story that is gaining traction with more Catholics because of events surrounding this election.

Some evidence of the red-blue separation is anecdotal. I have received many reports of priests touting the virtues of Obama from the pulpit. These are the same parishes where Respect Life Sunday was completely ignored. People are shaking their heads in disbelief; they didn’t realize it was “that bad,” they told me.

But there have also been public indications of this red/blue tension. This election year, a record number of individual bishops (see the list below) have made public statements in response to Catholic supporters of Sen. Barack Obama. All of them have reminded Catholic voters of the Church’s teaching on when life begins, and the issue’s relevance in politics.

Although the number of bishops speaking out is remarkable, there is another 200-plus who have said nothing individually. Furthermore, Catholic supporters of Obama are referring to the outspoken bishops as a “rogue group” and are lecturing“one-issue bishops” on the “correct” interpretation of Catholic teaching.

The aggressive style of Obama Catholics in this election was presaged back in February when a prominent Catholic journalist wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post ending with, “Sounds like I’ll be voting for the Democrat [Obama] – and the bishops be damned.”

There is no public record of how the bishops responded, but the still-growing list of prelates who have publicly corrected Biden, Pelosi, or defended life in this election suggests they are not cowering.

Some of these bishops come from blue states like New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Illinois – a fact that might prove my thesis about the coming divide wrong. Yet the Catholic vote in these states has consistently been in support of pro-abortion Catholic politicians. These heavily Catholic states are blue because Catholics have made them so.

If Catholic voters help to elect Obama, it will be a wake-up call for some in the Church and a cause for celebration to others. The theological and political divide among Catholics, along with regional differences, could be exacerbated. Dioceses may begin to appear more red or blue as a result.

The following is a list of those bishops who have made public statements about Catholics in politics in this election. Regarding those bishops not on the list, it should be mentioned that the joint statement by Justin Cardinal Rigali, chair of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Bishop William Lori, Chair of the Committee on Doctrine, carries the unified voice of all the bishops.

1. Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver

2. Bishop James Conley, auxiliary of Denver

3. Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C.

4. Justin Cardinal Rigali of Philadelphia, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities

5. Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, chairman of the Committee on Doctrine

6. Edward Cardinal Egan of New York

7. Bishop Samuel Aquila of Fargo

8. Bishop David Zubik of Pittsburgh

9. Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs

10. Archbishop Jose Gomez of San Antonio

11. Bishop Oscar Cantu, auxiliary of San Antonio

12. Bishop William Murphy of Rockville

13. Bishop Edward Slattery of Tulsa

14. Bishop Kevin Farrell of Dallas

15. Bishop Gregory Aymond of Austin

16. Sean Cardinal O’Malley of Boston

17. Bishop Thomas Wenski of Orlando

18. Archbishop John Nienstedt of Saint Paul/Minneapolis

19. Francis Cardinal George of Chicago, President of the USCCB

20. Bishop Robert Vasa of Baker

21. Bishop Jerome Listecki of La Crosse

22. Bishop Richard Lennon of Cleveland

23. Bishop Ralph Nickless of Sioux City

24. Archbishop George Niederauer of San Francisco

25. Bishop Glen Provost of Lake Charles, LA

26. Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn

27. Bishop Joseph F. Martino of Scranton

28. Archbishop Raymond Burke, Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura

30. Bishop Peter J. Jugis of Charlotte

31. Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Raleigh

32. Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, KS

33. Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph, MI

34. Bishop Robert C. Morlino of Madison, WS

35. Bishop Ronald Gilmore of Dodge City, KS

36. Bishop Paul Coakley of Salina, KS

37. Bishop Michael Jackels of Wichita

38. Bishop Gerald M. Barbarito of Palm Beach

39. Bishop Kevin W. Vann of Fort Worth

40. Archbishop Henry J. Mansell of Hartford

41. Joint Statement by the bishops of New York State (22 bishops)

(Please let me know if I have left any bishops off this list.)

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.

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s