The National Catholic Review

It is time for Deal Hudson to change the name of his site from InsideCatholic.com to InsideRepublican.com. His partisan attack on Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was received today by Pope Benedict XVI, puts him in an odd place: Hudson is now, officially, more Catholic than the Pope.

Hudson, who has long served as the point man for cooperation between the GOP and conservative Catholics, tries to defend the Pope’s decision to meet with Pelosi as mere diplomatic protocol, the kind of thing Benedict must do as head of state. He even acknowledges that grace may be present: "It’s a good idea for Benedict to meet with Pelosi, because one can never underestimate the impact of being in his presence." Actually, the Master promised to be present wherever two or three are gathered in his name, and did not specify that one of the two or three had to be the Bishop of Rome. I can understand why conservatives oppose "cheap grace" but must they replace it with "sparse grace"?

But, Hudson is not content to ostensibly praise the Holy Father. He goes on to tell him to do his job. Hudson writes: "Pelosi, of course, should be denied communion, but it is unlikely to happen. Any priest who celebrates Mass with Pelosi present will be carefully chosen beforehand in order to avoid embarrassment to the Speaker and her entourage." Actually, the priest may or may not be chosen by Pelosi. She could just attend whatever Mass is being said at the church closest to her hotel. But, that priest will most definitely have been chosen by the Bishop of Rome to serve the spiritual needs of the city. And in the Eternal City, there is no such policy of denying communion to politicians because of political disagreement.

Not content to tell the Pope to do his job, Hudson also has instructions for the Archbishop of San Francisco. "Given the publicity Pelosi will receive during this trip, Archbishop Niederauer should issue another public statement reiterating his criticism of her position on abortion -- and that, furthermore, if she presents herself for communion, he will deny it to her," Hudson opines. "If he were to remain silent, he would experience the embarrassment of having other U.S. bishops responding to Pelosi, in his place, on behalf of the Church." I am not sure if it bothers anyone else, but it strikes me as passing strange to not only tell the kind Archbishop Niederauer how to do his job but also how to feel about it, that his appropriate emotional response should be embarrassment. This is creepy. If I received this essay from a student I would have circled this paragraph and written the word "Boundaries" in the margin.

Speaker Pelosi made a hash of Catholic theology last summer on "Meet the Press" and her Archbishop set the record straight without guessing her motives and without diminishing his affection for her as a child of God and a daughter of the Church. Pope Benedict has made it clear that he will leave the denial of communion to local ordinaries where it properly rests. Hudson should listen to the Q-and-A at Marquette Law School with Archbishop Timothy Dolan on the subject: The man widely expected to be named Archbishop of New York later this week made clear that the "no communion" approach was not his. If Pope Benedict really wanted to endorse the effort to turn the communion rail into a battlefront in the culture wars, he would have named someone else to the cathedra in St. Patrick’s.

Mr. Hudson is no doubt a sincere Catholic and a sincere Republican. But, his interest in promoting his party continues to lead him down intellectual paths that are at odds with the most basic of Catholic principles. We bloggers are entitled to be a little churlish, to even indulge a little ad hominem vitriol in the interest of spicy prose, to encourage the "clash" of ideas rather than the calm, charitable sharing of theological discussion. But, as we approach the communion rail, shouldn’t we have something on our mind other than the state of the soul of the person next to us in the line? And, where does InsideCatholic get off telling the Pope how to run his diocese or Archbishop Niederauer how to feel when running his?

Comments

Anonymous | 2/18/2009 - 10:31am
"But, his interest in promoting his party continues to lead him down intellectual paths that are at odds with the most basic of Catholic principles." True enough about Deal Hudson, but the same could be written for the likes of Catholic Democrats as well who have bent over backwards to accomodate their party's dancing in toe with the pro-abortion lobby under the benign label of being "pro-choice". Some of these same people saw it fitting to scold (in an official capacity as members of Congress) Pope Benedict XVI over the SSPX matter. Did you have the same sense of outrage at Democrats "telling the Pope how to run his diocese"?
Anonymous | 2/18/2009 - 6:00pm
If Mr. Hudson is to give up telling bishops how to run their dioceses, should not your journal do likewise? It would indeed be a relief were journalists to give up that particular habit. The problem with being a journalist seems to be that one comes to believe that one has been transformed into a theologian / biologist / politician / and so on and on. Is it a confusion of opinion with serious thought?
Anonymous | 2/19/2009 - 1:58am
Are we really out of Catholics at this point who care more about Church teaching than politics? I am not familiar with Mr. Hudson, but if he is Republican or Democrat -- so what?! In the article, Mr. Winters goes to extraordinary lengths to be disparage a quote from him. But in its current state (devoid of context) that is quite a nice compliment to both-- to the Pope as respect for his person and office, and to Pelosi to be thus honored by the invitation. Then the very next paragraph, the author is appalled by Mr. Hudson noting what 'should' be done. Reading very deep into the comment, the author believes Mr. Hudson is telling the Pope how to "do his job." That is the logical equivalent of me being at a ball game and saying "what the coach 'should' do here is put on the hit'n'run." I am no more telling the coach how to run his team than Mr. Hudson is telling the Pope how to act! For God's sake, we all have an idea of how we think things 'should' be, but no one makes us out as arrogantly as the author does to Mr. Hudson. And as for the second to last question regarding 'the state of the soul of the person next to us in the line,' I would remind the author to reread the parable of the Good Samaritan. Additionally Paul tells we are to reproach an errant brother, not coddle or ignore him over our own concerns. We are called to assist in the salvation of our fellow man, not leave him lying on the road when morally (or physically) destitute.
Anonymous | 2/18/2009 - 12:54pm
According to the Holy See's statement on the meeting, the Pope spent the whole 15 minute conversation talking with Pelosi about the right to life and the need to defend the unborn. The Vatican statement also includes the following: ''His Holiness took the opportunity to speak of the requirements of the natural moral law and the Church's consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death which enjoin all Catholics, and especially legislators, jurists and those responsible for the common good of society, to work in co-operation with all men and women of good will in creating a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development.'' This diplomatese for: the Pope gave the Speaker a good talking to. I don't think you'll see any more pro-abort Democratic pols stopping by for a Papal chat anytime soon.
Anonymous | 2/22/2009 - 4:43pm
Can one of these right-wing commenters provide instances of America/M.S.W. telling the bishops how to do their job? Hudson is flatly saying things like "Bishop __ should do __." That is beyond the pale.
Anonymous | 2/20/2009 - 9:37am
Mr. Winters is no doubt a sincere Catholic and a sincere Democrat. But, his interest in promoting his party continues to lead him down intellectual paths that are at odds with the most basic of Catholic principles. Can you imagine in the Church of the first century a local politician entering a Church in Corinth or Rome or Jerusalem and someone pointing out to Paul or Peter or one of the other elders present that this woman or man in fact supported the local custom of women killing the baby in their wombs?This person in authority described herself as an ardent member of their Church and although she disagreed with Peter and Paul on certain issues that should not be a problem for anybody. Then Paul perhaps shrugging his shoulders says "ok lets get started" and the local Pol takes her place with the other Christians present and perhaps sits next to Mary (Mother of Jesus) and a couple of gals called Felicity and Perpetua!!A big tent indeed.This is my body given up for you!This is your body given up for me
Anonymous | 2/20/2009 - 9:31am
If only the bloggers and editors of America had the courage to attack pro-abortion politicians with the same intensity they attack critics of pro-abortion politicians, U.S. Catholics might wake up and see with greater clarity what kind of society they have created and the damage to the Culture of Life. Mr. Hudson has his personal flaws (don't we all?), for which he has repeatedly and earnestly apologized. Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI have repeatedly apologized for the flaws of the clergy. Flaws acknowledged, how does that impact the truth of their words? Answer: It doesn't. Thwe difference is Pelosi, Biden et al refuse to acknowledge their own flaws that are directly impacting the lives of the most vulnerable. Final point. If you've never read Inside Catholic or CRISIS Magazine, then you probably don't know it is regularly populated by Democrat Party writers, bloggers and readers.
Anonymous | 2/20/2009 - 12:17am
While we're on the topic of respect for human life at all stages, I wonder if Speaker Pelosi spoke to the Pope about the concerns of many American Catholics and Jewish Americans about the Pope's recent and shameful welcome back into the Catholic Church of an unrepentant Holocaust denier (who was deported today from Argentina). I am certain the Pope, the Church's most senior pastor and bishop, would have told Speaker Pelosi not to receive communion if he felt she was deserving of excommunication. Popes have openly excommunicated other people in recent history (like Bishop Richard Williamson of the Society of Pius X). I was told by my parish priest not to receive communion because I voted for Obama and donated money to his campaign (unless I went to confession and repented of this "mortal sin"). I obeyed his discipline and now I worship (and give my $400 monthly donation) at an Episcopal Church. I also made a donation in honor of my former paroish priest to the Democratic Party. I stopped volunteering for Catholic Charities, too. Maybe other people who voted for Obama should --en masse-- remove their bodies, their volunteer time, and their money from the Catholic Church and give admitted violators of sexual boundaries like Deal Hudson what they want, a Church of right-wing Republicans. Certainly Deal Hudson fits in with some clergy who can't keep their hands of of children. Hudson and others like him come across as fundamentalists, if such a thing is possible for Catholics. Ironically, the Episcopal Church used to be called the Republican Party at Prayer. I think the Catholic Church in the USA now qualifies for that name. We live in a democracy which prohibits establishment of religion. We can't legislate everything we believe is immoral. A church as partisan as the Catholic Church (and right-wing groups like EWTN) in the USA should lose its tax exempt status.
Anonymous | 2/20/2009 - 12:29pm
I must say America Magazine and this blog often seems to tell the Pope and the Bishops on "How to do their job". Sort of pot calling the kettle black here huh? I also must say that the caricuture from Mr Winters as to Deal Hudson is a tad sad. If one has been noticing lately Deal and the contributors have all sort of opinions often critical of the GOP. I suppose Deal's series of post on opposing what Israel was doing in Gaza escapted everyones attention as just a recent example
Anonymous | 2/18/2009 - 5:04pm
Why should Hudson be disappointed? Does he expect anything different? It is pro-choice Catholics who should be disappointed at Pelosi for the missed opportunity to intelligently discuss the pro-choice position. A good start would have been an insistence that there is no need for pro-choice Catholics to play defense, as abortion is not a legislative matter until Congress expands legal recognition to the unborn. Until it does that, or until the pro-life movement seeks to have this done, discussion of the legality of abortion is silly. The movement's focus on overturning Roe would be comical if it did not, by omission, lead to the deaths of the unborn.
Anonymous | 2/18/2009 - 10:37pm
Ad hominems seem to crowd out any rational discourse on this site. Another difference between Jesuits and Dominicans?
Anonymous | 2/18/2009 - 4:40pm
My impression is that the folks who write for America do accept the Church’s teaching on abortion and place it alongside the fullness of Catholic teaching on other issues as well, asking that all be given their due. The folks at InsideCatholic, with some exceptions, reduce Catholic teaching to abortion, homosexuality, and, sometimes, school choice, often outright rejecting Catholic teaching on other issues (a misreading of “prudential disagreement” being used as a giant loophole). So, no, I don’t see the equivalence of the two sites, unless asking right-leaning Catholics to not use only one or two issues as a partisan cudgel while ignoring the tensions between Catholicism and the Republican Party is, ipso facto, evidence of support for the Democratic Party (or, as they say on InsideCatholic, the Democrat Party).
Anonymous | 2/18/2009 - 4:28pm
How can a true Catholic deny the Eucharist to anyone who seeks it earnestly? Do we not believe that it conveys the healing grace of Jesus Christ ''ex opere operato'' -- regardless of the worthiness of the one serving it or the one receiving it? To whom did Jesus deny his presence? To sinners and tax collectors? To hypocritical religious leaders? Did He not give His body and blood to those who crucified Him and to the whole world? When Ms. Pelosi receives the Eucharist, do we not believe that it will work to transform her life and her opinions of abortion? One might postulate that to deny a sinner the means of salvation is to reject power of the Holy Spirit to transform lives. This would be the ''sin against the Holy Spirit.'' Have these priests considered that they could be placing their own souls in unpardonable danger?
Anonymous | 2/18/2009 - 4:08pm
Deal Hudson’s opinions should have no credibility on America’s blog. He was forced to resign as head of Crisis magazine after disclosure of his conduct with a co-ed at Fordham where he was a philosophy professor. http://natcath.org/NCR_Online/archives2/2004c/082704/082704i.php Quoting from my letter in NCReporter in 2004 to clarify: “In my view, what Hudson did amounted to rape, taking advantage of a drunken, troubled student, when the power differential was obvious: a 44-year-old faculty leader with a vulnerable 18-year-old. How dare he adopt the benign public relations language of bishops about “mistakes,” “grievous sin” or “embarrassing event” when I believe “crime” is the more appropriate term? And shall we parse the definition of rape to exclude Hudson’s action? His version of consent must be breathtaking. What was missing in the article though was some indication of how XXXX is faring today. I pray she is a victim turned survivor, and has come through the darkness somehow. The perpetrator goes on to power and glory while the wounded copes as best she can.” According to the Washington Times http://www.washingtontimes.com/national/20040921-114801-5122r.htm, Hudson lost his tenured position at Fordham and paid a $30,000 settlement. The article noted, “Specific accusations of more recent sexual misconduct had come to the (Crisis) board’s attention…This was not about one incident 10 years ago…” Hudson had written previously about “the lie that a person’s private conduct makes no difference to the execution of their public responsibilities.” Having been hoist with his own petard, let his words be taken seriously.
Anonymous | 2/18/2009 - 1:01pm
Mr Hudson does not show blogging as a very good tool for substantive journalism. This piece and many others of his on IC show him to be little better than a schoolyard tattletale. He seems very keen to be passing on information others "should know." It seems to have been his modus operandi in his Karl Rove days--getting a minor USCCB worker fired, only to have tumbled from political grace when others blabbed on his own flawed past. One might think an experience of being publicly outed and humiliated would inform his current practices. Maybe so, maybe not. Personally, I don't have a problem with him being a Republican. He doesn't have theological training, and his career has mostly been in politics. People who know Mr Hudson know he's a diehard ideologue in the public sphere, and a devoted Catholic too. Which comes first isn't really my concern, nor should it be anyone else's. We can read what he writes and make our own judgments, if we feel so compelled. That said, I'm not going to the House Speaker for theological insights either. Ms Pelosi and Mr Hudson operate in the same realm--and politics is clearly their gift. When I want theology, I'll go elsewhere. Each of them has shown a similar depth with theology in their public writings and statements, and a discerning reader would find it out soon enough.
Anonymous | 2/18/2009 - 12:20pm
Pelosi's problem is that her belief regarding the morality of abortion, rather than the legality of abortion, has put her at odds with the Catholic Church. Like Catholics at the other extreme, she likely believes that if something is immoral it should be made illegal, and therefore, she must argue that it is not immoral. However, as a government official, her focus should be on how government might virtually end abortion while still protecting the rights of women. One step in that direction might be to outlaw research involving the destruction of embryos so that it becomes commonplace to recognize them as worthy of protection by people who do, encourage, or have abortions.
Anonymous | 2/18/2009 - 11:34am
Mr. Hudson should only change his site to InsideRepublican.com after America Magazine changes it site to InsideDemocraticParty.com. Why would you think that criticism of Ms. Pelosi is only done because she is a Democrat? The woman, more than any other politician, has vocally denied fundamental Church teachings. I am sure Hudson would criticize her if she were a Republican because of her fundamental errors in doctrine. Don't make too much of the Pope meeting with her. Christ met with the sinners of his time. Should not His succesor on earth do the same?
Anonymous | 2/18/2009 - 9:03am
Rocco Palmo's blog, Whispers in the Loggia, entitles his report "For Madame Speaker - A Talking-To," as the Pope BRIEFLY met with Pelosi - just long enough for a catechism lesson on the Catholic teachings she publicly rejects. Rather than chastise Mr. Hudson, why not point out the embarrassment for "Catholics for Obama" to have the Pope repudiate their schtick? Or would that be too "un-America(n)"?