Lobbying For The Bishops

Deal W. Hudson

There are two things I need to bring to your attention…

First, the biannual meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in Colorado came and went last week. Of course, you’d never know it from the minimal coverage. This is a shame since the bishops released a very important statement that the mainstream media appear to have missed.

It can be found in “Catholics in Political Life,” a preview to the full report that the bishops will be releasing later this year (but not until the election has already come and gone, unfortunately). The statement answers a lot of questions that have been floating around lately about the duties of Catholic politicians and our duties as Catholic voters – especially when our political and religious priorities are crossed.

The bishops touched on the hot topic of denying pro-abortion Catholic politicians Communion, but they ended up just putting it back to the individual bishops. So each bishop will have to decide how to proceed in his own diocese.

It certainly would have been nice to have something a little more concrete here. But at least the state doesn’t play down the danger pro-abortion Catholic politicians put themselves in: “To make [abortion] legal is itself wrong. …The legal system as such can be said to cooperate in evil when it fails to protect the lives of those who have no protection except the law. …Those who formulate law, therefore, have an obligation in conscience to work toward correcting morally defective laws, lest they are guilty of cooperating in evil and in sinning against the common good.”

But the most encouraging – and concrete – part comes later in the document. Regarding the public platforms that are sometimes given pro-abortion Catholic politicians, the bishops clearly state: “The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.”

This is important. As noted in an article in the June issue of CRISIS (“The Enemy Inside The Gates,” by Patrick J. Reilly), numerous Catholic schools and institutions have invited pro-abortion Catholics to speak or be honored. Not only does this undermine the Church’s position on important moral issues, but it also comes dangerously close to sanctioning the anti-Catholic activities of these individuals.

Now that the bishops have stated unequivocally that these politicians should never be given ANY kind of award, honor, or platform, we can start looking to Catholic institutions to fall in line. While I won’t hold my breath on the colleges, I’m certainly happy to see the bishops taking a strong step in the right direction.

But that wasn’t the only thing I wanted to tell you about in this letter…

There’s a battle brewing right now in the Senate, and it could have a huge impact on all of us. I’m referring, of course, to the Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA) – which is a Constitutional amendment that says marriage is restricted to a man and a woman.

As you may already know, the FMA will finally be put to a vote in the Senate on July 15th. That means there’s little less than a month to rally the troops on this important issue in order to get the required 67 votes needed for passage.

Enter the lobbyists… those individuals who try to shape public policy to reflect the positions of their particular interest group. The Catholic Church in America has its own lobbying arm – the Office of Government Liaison (OGL), directed by Frank Monahan. Headquartered at the USCCB, the Office represents the bishops’ (and, in turn, Catholics’) concerns before congress.

You probably remember that a few weeks ago, Monsignor William Fay, the conference’s general secretary, wrote us to insist that the bishops were fully behind the FMA and were doing everything they could to urge congressmen to support it.

Well, it’s now time for the USCCB to step up to the plate and deliver on their promise. Currently, the FMA only has about 30 senators behind it, with another 23 senators undecided. As I mentioned, the bill needs 67 votes to pass, so it’s still far from a sure thing. The next four weeks will be crucial in determining the ultimate success or failure of the bill, and that’s where Frank Monahan and his staff come in.

While the OGL should be petitioning all senators for their support of the FMA, it’s especially vital to focus on the 24 Catholic senators. Shockingly, 15 of those 24 senators are currently OPPOSED to the bill, and four more are undecided. (I’ll tell you who in a moment.)

Think about that: Only 1 in 5 senators who claim to be Catholic actually support a bill that would enshrine marriage as the union of one man and one woman. That’s truly devastating.

And that’s why it’s crucial that the USCCB does its very best in the next few weeks to lobby these senators – to remind them of the Church’s clear teaching on marriage and their duty as senators in light of that teaching (especially on the heels of the bishops’ statement from their Colorado meeting). For the record, those senators currently opposed to the bill are:

Joseph Biden (D-DE)
John Breaux (D-LA)
Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
Susan Collins (R-ME)
Tom Daschle (D-SD)
Christopher Dodd (D-CT)
Richard Durbin (D-IL)
Tom Harkin (D-IA)
Ted Kennedy (D-MA)
John Kerry (D-MA)
Mary Landrieu (D-LA)
Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)
Patty Murray (D-WA)
John Reed (D-RI)

Four senators are still, astonishingly enough, undecided. They are:

Mike DeWine (R-OH)
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
John Sununu (R-NH)
George Voinovich (R-OH)

It’s also important for us to recognize and appreciate those Catholic senators who have already taken a stand in support of the FMA. They are:

Jim Bunning (R-KY)
Pete Domenici (R-NM)
Peter Fitzgerald (R-IL)
Sam Brownback (R-KS)
Rick Santorum (R-PA)

Monsignor Fay, Frank Monahan, and the rest of the folks at the USCCB certainly have their work cut out for them. But we’re fully behind their efforts to persuade these senators to act in line with their self-professed faith.

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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