Month: November 2014

Why Does the Media Hate the Church?

Deal W. Hudson
Published March 31, 2010

It’s sad to watch the New York Times and the Washington Post, along with MSNBC, attack Benedict XVI. The story they concocted over the past few weeks, with the help of retired Bishop Rembert Weakland about Rev. Joseph Murphy, is risibly tenuous.

These once-great newspapers trivialize themselves by publishing front-page stories making obvious their chronic disregard of the Catholic Church and, especially, the Pope. Nothing else but a kind of seething hatred explains their willingness to ignore the canons of credible reporting and comment.

The Church’s staunchest defender in this country is Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, who has been countering this latest attack from the first blow. Donohue calls the New York Timesstory on Father Murphy the “last straw,” but no doubt there will be more straw to ignite Donohue’s flaming pen. (And it won’t be from the pages of the Summa Theologiae, which its author deemed as “so much straw” in the hours before his death.)

I asked Donohue, and a number of other experts, the question, “Why does media like the New York Times and the Washington Post hate the Church and the Pope – what’s the source of the animus?”

Donohue replied, “As I said in today’s New York Times op-ed page ad, it stems from three issues: abortion, gay marriage, and women’s ordination. So, when they can nail the Church on promiscuity, they love it. The goal is to weaken the moral authority of the Church so it won’t be as persuasive on issues like health care.”

Fred Barnes, executive editor of the Weekly Standard, agrees the media wants to weaken the Church. He echoes what his friend the late Bob Novak used to tell me about the mainstream media; it is “the most secular, liberal group in the country. The Catholic Church stands for everything you and I believe (though I’m not a Catholic) and for practically nothing the media likes. But the media cannot ignore the Catholic Church because it is so strong, popular, and enduring. That leaves the media one avenue of attack: Jump on any mistakes or scandals involving the Church and don’t let go.”

Another Evangelical friend of Catholics, Ralph Reed, founder of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, wrote to me that the “lamestream media hates the Pope because he exemplifies the vibrancy and relevance of orthodox faith in today’s society, which many in the press find either alien or deeply troubling.” Reed also views the media as alarmed that for the “once divided Evangelicals and devout Roman Catholics, the Pope is a symbol of a faith-based constituency the media views as hostile to modernity and values-neutral ‘tolerance.’”

Some responses to my question were brief and to the point. Bishop Robert F. Vasa of Baker, OR wrote saying, “Deal, Jesus told us it would happen: John 15:18-19. Looking the passage up I found: “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you” (NIV translation).

Another quotation from Scripture came from the founder of Wallbuilders, David Barton, who cited Romans 1: 28-30 to describe what happens to those who directly reject belief in God. “They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed, and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant, and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil. . . . (NIV translation).

The philosopher Francis Beckwith, a recent convert to the Catholic faith, located the source of the media’s hatred in “the narrative of secular liberalism.” “The media doesn’t want to acknowledge that Catholics even have an “intelligent” point of view,” he explained. “This is why they don’t assess arguments, they seek out scandal in order to demoralize opposition. Given its status as an unquestioned first principle, secular liberalism can not allow a divine foot in the door.”

Russell Shaw, who used to deal with the press on a daily basis as communication’s director of the bishops’ conference, also thinks, “The people in charge in those places are secularist ideologues who believe they possess the right answers.” Shaw is not particularly sanguine about the outcome of the struggle: “It would be nice to think there’s a happy ending to this story, but I doubt it. Somebody’s got to win in the end.”

The recurring theme in the answers I received was that of two powers, two opposing moral viewpoints, competing for influence. The secular power of the media detests the traditional moral teachings of the Church but does not confront it directly, preferring coverage of scandal to argument. As Jim Bopp, Jr., general counsel to National Right to Life, wrote to me, “The Pope and the Church are the strongest force making people accountable to traditional moral requirements. It therefore must be destroyed by any means necessary, even though liberals are soft on pedophilia, they are prepared to condemn the Catholic Church for not dealing harshly with them.”

The poet Matthew Arnold wrote in “Dover Beach” about loss of faith that left us on a “darkling plain/Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight.” In this round of attacks on Benedict XVI we are witness to just such a scene. But, as Francis Beckwith reminded me, the Pope knows how to defend his faith. “This scares the crap out of the mainstream media, since it upsets the narrative: only dumb, ill-informed, people disagree with us. The narrative must be sustained at all costs, even if it means engaging in wicked defamation.”

Catholic Advocate 2010

Obama Fails to Seize the Opportunity of His Big Night

Deal W. Hudson
January 28, 2010

President Obama gave his first State of the Union speech last night.With his popularity in a steady decline for the past six months, Obama needed his speech to rekindle the enthusiasm for his leadership that elected him in the first place. Thus far, there is no evidence to suggest he was successful.

If his State of the Union had been a Broadway Show, the morning reviews would have closed the show in the first week.

One reason for Obama’s inability to reverse his popularity slide is his decision to ignore the fact that a majority of Americans do not support some of his key initiatives. In a Rasmussenpoll taken just before the speech, 61 percent want Obama and the Congress to drop health care reform and focus on jobs. But Obama ignored this widespread resistance and called on Congress to get the bill passed, saying, “We need health insurance reform.”

Simply renaming health care reform “health insurance reform” will not solve Obama’s political puzzle, nor the underlying problems of the legislation. But this is typical of the president’s approach to political obstacles — change the language, not the substance, and people will drop their objections.

The speech itself broke no new ground either in tone or substance. Obama continued to blame the Bush administration for his inability to rebuild the economy and the GOP for the lack of meaningful legislation passed (in particular, health care reform).

Most unsettling was Obama’s dressing down of the Supreme Court – who were all sitting directly in front of him — for their recent decision lifting the restrictions on corporate contributions to political advertising. This presidential faux pas elicited a wincing, head-shaking “that’s not true” from Justice Samuel Alito, which quickly became a popular YouTube video.

Alito’s response is already being called the “Joe Wilson moment” of the evening, referring to the South Carolina Congressman’s “You lie!” outburst during the president’s last speech to Congress in September. Needless to say, it doesn’t help Obama that such strong gut reactions became part of the media narrative of an evening that was to be the resuscitation of his presidency.
Other than stumbling over the separation of powers tripwire, the most awkward moment for Obama was the laughter, even from Speaker Pelosi, following his declaration, “Starting in 2111, we are prepared to cap government spending for three years.” Embarrassed by the laughter from both sides of the chamber, Obama awkwardly ad-libbed, “That’s how budgets work.” But his speech never recovered its momentum.

If Obama was trying to revive his popularity with independents, he chose a strange moment to announce the end of the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy of the U. S. military. Passed by the 103rd Congress in 1993, this policy regarding homosexuals in the military was signed by Bill Clinton, a master of attracting and keeping the support of independents. Why Obama would choose to pay homage to his far-left base when he is hemorrhaging independents and blue-dog Democrats is inexplicable.

Some of the punditry following the speech was bizarre. NBC’s Chris Matthews made two contradictory statements. First, he called Obama’s speech “post-racial,” whatever that means, but then added, “Tonight, I forgot he was black.” What? If Matthews had ‘forgotten Obama was black,’ he wouldn’t have mentioned it at all.
Obama’s State of the Union will do nothing to help his popularity, nor will it dilute the potency of Scott Brown’s victory on January 19. The president should have spoken directly to the discontent that created an election environment where a Republican could win the seat Ted Kennedy held for 46 years. Instead, he chose to play the martyr to those ‘malevolent Republicans.’

*****

Is It Time For a Catholic Tea Party?

Deal W. Hudson

Published February 10, 2010

Over 750 “tea parties” were held on April 15 of last year, protesting the excesses of the Obama administration — in particular, the pork-stuffed stimulus bill. Initially, the mainstream media tried to ignore the movement. They downplayed its size and influence, until the steady slide of President Obama’s popularity, the growing opposition to Congress’s health-care reform proposals, and Republican victories in New Jersey, Virginia, and Massachusetts forced them to acknowledge its influence.

Since then, the media strategy has been to portray the tea party as a gathering of disgruntled extremists, in spite of the fact that the limits on government spending they advocate would have been considered common sense in both political parties only a decade ago.

For American Catholics, the equivalent of centralized federal power is the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The USCCB, the kind of episcopal conference authorized by Vatican II, has no canonical authority of its own. But its voice is considered authoritative by the media, and it is treated as such by those who applaud its lobbying efforts in Congress and the White House.

Criticism of the USCCB among lay Catholics, as well as many priests and bishops, has been a constant since its march to the political left in the years after its creation in 1966. Pastoral letters, including the ones on the economy (1986) andwar and peace (1983), created a clear line of demarcation between the liberal politics of the conference (aligned with the Democratic Party) and the Catholics, both lay and religious, who interpreted the Church’s social teaching differently (in a way inclining them toward conservatism and the GOP.)

The pro-life advocacy of the conference, along with its opposition to same-sex marriage, has always set it apart from other politically liberal institutions. Unfortunately, the USCCB’s choice of coalition partners and memberships often threaten to undermine the clarity of its witness.

Nowhere is this better illustrated than in the series of reports from the Reform CCHD Now Coalition. These reports show two things clearly:

1. Bishops have given Catholic money to organizations advocating abortion and same-sex marriage (two such organizations were defunded last November).

2. The bishops have joined coalitions, like the Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights, that also advocate abortion and same-sex marriage.

These reports differ from previous attempts to address the politics of the USCCB in two ways: First, their Internet links allow anyone to read the various smoking guns unearthed by the research. The second factor is timing — the reports come after both the 2008 presidential election and the furor surrounding Notre Dame’s decision to bestow an honor on a pro-abortion president.

The Notre Dame incident brought home to thousands of Catholics, in a way they had never understood before, that many venerable mainstream Catholic institutions were strongholds of dissent.

Yet the Notre Dame story might not have gone so far if many Catholics were not already furious with the role a bishops’ document played in the election of Barack Obama in the first place.

The 2007 version of the bishops’ “Faithful Citizenship” document, prepared in advance for distribution for the 2008 election, contained several passages that, if taken out of context, gave the green light to Catholic voters to ignore Obama’s aggressively pro-abortion stance. (Obama won the self-identified Catholic vote over Sen. John McCain 54 percent to 44 percent, though among religiously active Catholics he lost by 1 percentage point.)

That document did not emerge from the USCCB without a fight — a number of bishops opposed it; I am told that Archbishop Raymond Burke, then still in St. Louis, was literally shouted down when he tried to explain his opposition to the problematic passages. The best any bishop has been able to say to me regarding “Faithful Citizenship” is that “it was difficult, it was a compromise.”

But such compromises are brewing a tempest for a potential tea party revolution among the faithful. In some ways, the very notion of a tea party goes against the grain for Catholics, with their inbred sense of deference to authority. Those same Catholics, however, are beginning to realize that there are some matters where they can speak out without acting in disobedience to the authority of their bishop.

In response to my recent story on the USCCB’s membership in a pro-abortion civil rights organization, a Notre Dame alumnus from the class of 1965 sent me this message: “Is it time for us to start throwing tea bags at the USCCB?” This is a man who, ten years ago, would not tolerate a word uttered against either Notre Dame or the bishops. The times may be changing.

*****

The Catholic Tea Kettle Continues to Boil

Deal W. Hudson

Published September 23, 2010

Over the past two weeks, I’ve had extensive discussions with a wide group of Catholic leaders about the state of the Church in the United States. The frustration and impatience among Catholics, which I discussed last February in “Is It Time for a Catholic Tea Party?,” continue to grow.

The occasions for this discussion were the Catholic Leadership Conference held in Philadelphia earlier this month, immediately followed by the Faith & Freedom Coalition Conference and the 15th Annual Partnership Dinner benefiting InsideCatholic, both held in Washington, D.C.

The broad background for this discontent is well known: Lay Catholics cannot understand why, over the past 30 years, more bishops haven’t taken a stronger public stand on Catholic politicians who openly dissent on life and marriage issues.

This level of discontent remained at a simmer until the 2008 presidential campaign and the election of Barack Obama as president — at which point it reached a boil. From parishes around the nation came reports of priests and lay staff making clear their preference for Obama, in some cases arguing openly that their support for Obama was offset by “proportionate reasons,” such as Sen. John McCain’s support for the Iraq War.

When the concerned faithful began to hunt down this “proportionate reasons” argument, they found it in the bishops’ own 2007 document, “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Catholic Call to Political Responsibility.” Stunned Catholics wondered aloud how the bishops themselves could have provided Obama’s Catholic supporters the very argument they needed to rebut any concern about his advocacy for infanticide as a state senator.

In response to the outcry, a record number of bishops issued statements during the presidential campaign either seeking to clarify “Faithful Citizenship” or to correct misinterpretations of the Catholic faith set forth by Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Joe Biden. Yet none of them targeted the grassroots and parish-based campaign efforts of pro-Obama groups, like Catholics in Alliance, using the “proportionate reasons” argument to distract Catholic voters from Obama’s abortion record.

The one bishop to confront this interpretation of “Faithful Citizenship” head-on was Bishop Joseph Martino in Scranton, Pennsylvania, who famously interrupted the speakers to say, “No USCCB document is relevant in this diocese. The USCCB doesn’t speak for me. The only relevant document… is my letter. There is one teacher in this diocese, and these points are not debatable.”

Obama was elected with the help of the self-identified Catholic vote, though weekly Mass-attending Catholics slightly preferred McCain. Some Obama sympathizers publicly applauded his election given the history of racism in our nation, and although they never explicitly called this a “proportionate reason,” it was certainly treated as such.

President Obama’s record has, unsurprisingly, tracked closely to his record as an Illinois state senator. Immediately discarding the Mexico City Policy upon his election, he has undone, or sought to undo, every aspect of the “abortion reduction” policy put in place by the Bush administration.

Most importantly, he found a way around the Hyde Amendment by inserting a massive abortion mandate in his health-care legislation. With the passage of Obamacare and the inability of USCCB lobbying efforts to either defeat it or strip out its abortion funding loopholes, many lay Catholics have come to assume a Tea Party posture of “enough is enough.”

Many of them wonder why Sr. Carol Keehan, president of the Catholic Health Association, is still in the good graces of the USCCB. It was Sister Keehan, after all, who neutralized the bishops’ opposition to the health-care bill and denied the presence of its abortion funding.

Sister Keehan has become a virtual symbol of what is wrong with the Church: There is no accountability, and no consequences for open dissent on the preeminent moral issues. Thus, when it came to light that the Catholic Campaign for Human Development of the USCCB has been funding organizations that openly support abortion and gay marriage, the reaction of the laity was a cynical “more of the same.”

Some of the leadership I spoke with cited examples of overall improvement in episcopal leadership, both in individual dioceses and at the USCCB, and warned of becoming too negative.

Attention to tone is always important, but the simple fact is this: Of the 97 Democrat Catholic members of the House, only 9 voted against a health-care billcontaining abortion funding, in spite of the fact that the USCCB and cardinals like Justin Rigali and Francis George spoke out clearly against it. (All 38 GOP House members voted against the bill.)

Something has gone wrong when those who publicly profess the Catholic faith feel no compunction about openly defying its teachings at the urging of their bishops. On top of that, a group called “Catholics United” announces it will spend $500,000 to reelect those same politicians, all Democrats — and not a single bishop makes any comment.

The Catholic tea kettle continues to boil, as the patience of many of the lay faithful is running out.

*****

Why Does the Media Hate the Church?

Deal W. Hudson

Published March 31, 2010

It’s sad to watch the New York Times and the Washington Post, along with MSNBC, attack Benedict XVI. The story they concocted over the past few weeks, with the help of retired Bishop Rembert Weakland about Rev. Joseph Murphy, is risibly tenuous.

These once-great newspapers trivialize themselves by publishing front-page stories making obvious their chronic disregard of the Catholic Church and, especially, the Pope. Nothing else but a kind of seething hatred explains their willingness to ignore the canons of credible reporting and comment.

The Church’s staunchest defender in this country is Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, who has been countering this latest attack from the first blow. Donohue calls the New York Timesstory on Father Murphy the “last straw,” but no doubt there will be more straw to ignite Donohue’s flaming pen. (And it won’t be from the pages of the Summa Theologiae, which its author deemed as “so much straw” in the hours before his death.)

I asked Donohue, and a number of other experts, the question, “Why does media like the New York Times and the Washington Post hate the Church and the Pope – what’s the source of the animus?”

Donohue replied, “As I said in today’s New York Times op-ed page ad, it stems from three issues: abortion, gay marriage, and women’s ordination. So, when they can nail the Church on promiscuity, they love it. The goal is to weaken the moral authority of the Church so it won’t be as persuasive on issues like health care.”

Fred Barnes, executive editor of the Weekly Standard, agrees the media wants to weaken the Church. He echoes what his friend the late Bob Novak used to tell me about the mainstream media; it is “the most secular, liberal group in the country. The Catholic Church stands for everything you and I believe (though I’m not a Catholic) and for practically nothing the media likes. But the media cannot ignore the Catholic Church because it is so strong, popular, and enduring. That leaves the media one avenue of attack: Jump on any mistakes or scandals involving the Church and don’t let go.”

Another Evangelical friend of Catholics, Ralph Reed, founder of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, wrote to me that the “lamestream media hates the Pope because he exemplifies the vibrancy and relevance of orthodox faith in today’s society, which many in the press find either alien or deeply troubling.” Reed also views the media as alarmed that for the “once divided Evangelicals and devout Roman Catholics, the Pope is a symbol of a faith-based constituency the media views as hostile to modernity and values-neutral ‘tolerance.’”

Some responses to my question were brief and to the point. Bishop Robert F. Vasa of Baker, OR wrote saying, “Deal, Jesus told us it would happen: John 15:18-19. Looking the passage up I found: “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you” (NIV translation).

Another quotation from Scripture came from the founder of Wallbuilders, David Barton, who cited Romans 1: 28-30 to describe what happens to those who directly reject belief in God. “They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed, and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant, and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil. . . . (NIV translation).

The philosopher Francis Beckwith, a recent convert to the Catholic faith, located the source of the media’s hatred in “the narrative of secular liberalism.” “The media doesn’t want to acknowledge that Catholics even have an “intelligent” point of view,” he explained. “This is why they don’t assess arguments, they seek out scandal in order to demoralize opposition. Given its status as an unquestioned first principle, secular liberalism can not allow a divine foot in the door.”

Russell Shaw, who used to deal with the press on a daily basis as communication’s director of the bishops’ conference, also thinks, “The people in charge in those places are secularist ideologues who believe they possess the right answers.” Shaw is not particularly sanguine about the outcome of the struggle: “It would be nice to think there’s a happy ending to this story, but I doubt it. Somebody’s got to win in the end.”

The recurring theme in the answers I received was that of two powers, two opposing moral viewpoints, competing for influence. The secular power of the media detests the traditional moral teachings of the Church but does not confront it directly, preferring coverage of scandal to argument. As Jim Bopp, Jr., general counsel to National Right to Life, wrote to me, “The Pope and the Church are the strongest force making people accountable to traditional moral requirements. It therefore must be destroyed by any means necessary, even though liberals are soft on pedophilia, they are prepared to condemn the Catholic Church for not dealing harshly with them.”

The poet Matthew Arnold wrote in “Dover Beach” about loss of faith that left us on a “darkling plain/Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight.” In this round of attacks on Benedict XVI we are witness to just such a scene. But, as Francis Beckwith reminded me, the Pope knows how to defend his faith. “This scares the crap out of the mainstream media, since it upsets the narrative: only dumb, ill-informed, people disagree with us. The narrative must be sustained at all costs, even if it means engaging in wicked defamation.”

*****

The White House and the Congress Are Hurting the Church, and We Must Stop It

Deal W. Hudson

April 27, 2010

The present White House is having a huge impact on the Church in America. It’s typical to hear talk about the influence of the Church on politics, but at the present moment the influence is definitely in the other direction.

The pro-abortion forces in this country and the “social justice/seamless garment” crowd in the Church have been empowered by the new Congress and presidency. The reason the Church is so weak right now is the sudden power of groups like the Catholic Health Association, Catholics United, and Catholics In Alliance for the Common Good.

These groups, and their leadership, have straight lines of communication throughout the Church, through the USCCB, chanceries, parishes, and various Catholic associations. This is the network that drove the twisted interpretation of “Faithful Citizenship” through parishes nationwide in 2008.

They plan to do an even better job in 2012, unless we do something about it, unless we stop them.

Obama’s leadership, along with that of Pelosi, has strengthened the hand of the most anti-Catholic, anti-life elements of our culture, both here and in Europe, at the EU and the UN.

The threat of arresting our Holy Father on his upcoming trip to the UK should be a huge wake-up call for what we are up against.

The Church will eventually exert its influence, but for the present moment it is up to independent groups, like Catholic Advocate, to minimize the influence of the fake Catholic groups, especially the psuedo-Catholic groups funded by George Soros, liberal foundations, and labor unions. The media must be forced to describe them for what they are, as we did with Voice of the Faithful.

If we claim the role of Catholic lay expertise in politics then we can’t constantly be looking to the bishops to solve our problems. We should resist the impulse to ask the bishops to do all this work for us.

If we’ve made any mistake since the election it has been focusing on the bishops rather than training Catholics to be politically active and building a coalition of Catholics with other like-minded people of faith.

The only thing we should ask of the bishops is to rewrite the “Faithful Citizenship” document, which caused so much confusion in 2008.

We should not allow the defense of life to be treated as anything other than a Catholic effort, rather than a partisan one. Not only you and I are accused of being “shills” for one party as a result of our emphasis on life and marriage, but several of the more visible bishops as well.

We cannot wait for the Church to reform itself from within so that it assumes a commanding role in shaping our culture and politics. Instead, we must win targeted victories against the kind of leadership that strengthens the hand of the left-wing in the Church and the culture.

If we have another election like 2008, Church reform will be put off for many years to come.

*****

The Supreme Court and the Battle of Hastings

Deal W. Hudson

Published April 14, 2010

On Monday the U.S. Supreme Court will consider a case being called “The Battle of Hastings,” involving the right of a college or university to deny recognition to a student group that bans gays and lesbians. Christian Legal Society v. Martinez stems from 2004 when the University of California Hastings’ chapter of the Virginia-based Christian Legal Society changed its policy to exclude anyone who engaged in “unrepentant homosexual conduct.”

Applying its non-discrimination policy, the university decided not to recognize the group — called the Hastings Christian Fellowship — meaning the organization could not receive university funding, meet in university rooms, post on designated bulletin boards, or participate in the Student Organizations Fair.

The Christian Legal Society brought suit against UC Hastings represented by the Alliance Defense Fund. The Hastings’ case arrived in the Supreme Court after the 2006 decision by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White ruling in Hastings’ favor, saying its policy regulated conduct, not speech. White argued the policy did not regulate what the group could say about homosexuality, but it did bar them from discrimination.A 3-judge panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Judge White’s ruling In March 2009.

To argue on behalf of the Christian Legal Society, CLS and the Alliance Defense Fund have recruited Michael W. McConnell, a former federal appellate court judge, who currently runs the Constitutional Law Center at Stanford Law School. McConnell is arguing the case pro bono.

The justices will consider whether a law school at a public university with a non-discrimination policy can refuse funding to a religious student group because the group requires its officers and voting members to agree with its core religious beliefs.

The Supreme Court received 22 friend-of-the-court briefs in support of the Christian Legal Society. And among the almost 100 parties filing briefs in support of CLS and ADF there are 14 state attorneys general, including those from Michigan, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Alabama, Nebraska, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia, Louisiana, West Virginia, and South Dakota.

“Just as all student groups have the right to associate with people who share common beliefs and interests, Christian student groups have the right to be Christian student groups,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Gregory S. Baylor. “Requiring leaders of a Christian club to live by a Christian code of conduct is no different than an environmentalist club requiring its leaders not to be lumberjacks.”

For Alan Sears, president of the Alliance Defense Fund, the Hastings’ decision will have historic ramifications for religious freedom in our nation. As Sears wrote in an op-ed for the Washington Examiner:
“As Christian beliefs stand in ever starker contrast to the campus culture, it has become academic de rigueur to punish the free association of Christian students and the free expression of their ideas on campus.”

The decision of the justices regarding Hastings, according to Sears, will determine whether “the Constitution protects the rights of private student groups to select their message and their officers.” The outcome of Hastings will also send a message to universities and colleges. Should they be training their students “to believe that it’s appropriate for government officials to coerce and ostracize private organizations in order to conform to the prevailing orthodoxy that rules most college campuses today.”

*****

The Battle Over Who Controls the Internet Comes to A Head

Deal W. Hudson

Published May 16, 2010

The battle over who controls the Internet will soon come to a head. Is it the federal government, as the Obama administration is seeking to establish, or the many private companies who collaborated to create it and the millions of private citizens who use it for their entertainment and livelihood?

Soon we will find out if the federal government is going to take over the Internet. Under the Obama administration the Federal Communications Commission is seeking to force AT&T and Verizon to lease their Internet lines to rival companies.

Requiring Verizon and AT&T to share their lines, the FCC would effectively be putting the Internet under government control. Control of the Internet is precisely what the Obama administration wants with its support of “net neutrality” — the idea that there should be no restrictions or priorities on the type of content carried over the Internet by the carriers and ISPs.

Obama’s support of net neutrality means that all Internet traffic will be treated equally, regardless of where it originated or to where it is destined. “I’m a big believer in net neutrality,” President Obama proclaimed only a few days ago while reaffirming his backing of FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.

The groups backing net neutrality are opposed to companies like Verizon creating different levels of service by charging a higher cost for faster service. Other groups have argued that this kind of tiered service could also lead to “discrimination” against religious content for two reasons: Verizon executives may decide to filter religious content they find objectionable, and religious organizations may not be able to afford the faster service.

Those opposed to net neutrality argue that an Internet kept “open” by government regulation puts families at risk, for example, allowing sex offenders and pornographers to have unfettered access to home computers.

A month ago, in a severe setback to the Obama administration’s push for “net neutrality,” a federal appeals court ruled the Federal Communications Commission did not have the authority to issue a 2008 citation against Comcast Corporation for inhibiting some Internet traffic from high-bandwidth file-sharing services.

The court ruled that the FCC had not been legally empowered by the Congress to regulate the network-management practices of an Internet service provider.

The White House and its allies in Congress, however, are moving ahead with their plans to take control of the Internet.

The plan is to insert net neutrality standards into regulations from the 1930s regarding landline telephones. In other words, by reclassifying the Internet as a telecommunication service the FCC will be given a green light to impose its will.

Groups like the National Taxpayer’s Union, Americans for Tax Reform, and the Center for Individual Freedom have strongly condemned the effort. CFIF has a petition for those who want the FCC and the Obama Administation to “keep their hands off the Internet.”

*****

The Tea Party and the Religious Conservative Movement

Deal W. Hudson

Published October 8, 2010

A host of commentators on the Tea Party phenomena have mindlessly described the participants as exclusively concerned with fiscal issues. Anyone who has attended one of these events knows better.

Those who attend Tea Parties across the country are solid, middle Americans, from blue collar to white collar, all united not only by a concern for the profligate spending of the federal government, but also by the equally irresponsible social agenda of the Obama administration.

Here are the results of a major polling study of those who attend the Tea Party demonstrations. Called the American Values Survey: Religion, Values and the Mid-Term Elections; this poll was conducted in early September using a sample of 3,013 adults – that’s three times the normal sampling of a national survey.

Guess what? The survey showed that compared to the general population the Tea Party movement is “more supportive of small government, is overwhelmingly supportive of Sarah Palin, and reports that Fox News is the most trusted source of news about politics and current events.”

We didn’t need a survey to tell us that, but it’s nice to have it confirmed.

More importantly, however, are these findings:

Nearly half (47%) also say they are part of the religious right or conservative Christian movement.
Among the more than 8-in-10 (81%) who identify as Christian within the Tea Party movement, 57% also consider themselves part of the Christian conservative movement.
They are mostly social conservatives, not libertarians on social issues. Nearly two-thirds (63%) say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, and less than 1-in-5 (18%) support allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry.
I’ve always considered the Tea Parties to be a natural extension of the religious conservative movement I chronicled in my book, Onward Christian Soldiers: the Growing Political Power of Catholics and Evangelicals in the United States (Simon & Schuster, 2008). I think this survey proves it, beyond any doubt.

The media in ignoring the social conservative dimension of the Tea Party is, once again, trying to ignore the continued power of the people of faith in American politics.

*****

Harry Reid Among the Catholics Who Vote

Deal W. Hudson

Published October 5, 2010

Recent polling shows the religiously active Catholic vote is trending strongly toward the GOP. Gary Andres summarizes the findings by commenting:

“While Republicans lost among Catholics in 2006 by 11-points and 13-points in 2008, they now hold a 7-point lead (39%-32%) among Catholics in general. Republicans also lead among Catholics who attend church once a week or more by 12 points.”

These numbers look back to the results of the 2004 presidential election when George W. Bush crushed the Catholic candidate, Sen. John Kerry, by 5% among all self-identified Catholics and by nearly 20% among Catholics attending Mass at least once a week.

This spells trouble for Sen. Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader, in his race against Sharron Angle. Of the 78% of Nevada citizens who call themselves Christian, over half, 44%, are Roman Catholic. Catholics are the largest religious group in Nevada at 27% with Evangelicals at 13%. Catholic voters make more of a difference in Nevada than most other states. (Mormons who usually vote with other social conservatives are 13% of the population.)

Elections over the past 30 years have shown that when the religiously active voter is aroused then pro-abortion, socially liberal politicians like Reid become vulnerable. There is a strong correlation between both Catholics and Protestants who attend church regularly, or have children at home, with strong concern about a candidate’s position on social issues.

There is a long list of reasons why Catholic voters who care about the defense of life would vote against Senator Harry Reid. Here are just some of his votes over many years:

Reid voted “NO” to allowing Senate consideration of a partial birth abortion ban. Roll Call Vote #332 – 10/20/1999.

Reid voted “NO” on the motion to table the substitute amendment that would have weakened a proposed partial birth abortion ban. Roll Call Vote #335 – 10/20/1999.

Reid voted “NO” to requiring anyone receiving fetal tissue as a result of an abortion to disclose information about it. Roll Call Vote #338 – 10/21/1999.

Reid voted “NO” to barring funds for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) unless they have stopped activity in China or unless China no longer performs coerced abortions. Roll Call Vote #456 – 9/21/1995.

Reid voted “YES” to removing the Mexico City Policy language to the House version of a bill, which would require all groups receiving federal funding for overseas development from performing or promoting abortion. Roll Call Vote #561 – 11/1/1995.

Reid voted “YES” to tabling legislation barring federal funding for UNFPA unless it shuts down operations in China. Roll Call Vote #575 – 11/15/1995.

Catholics who understand the proper priority the life issues should have in their political participation will find Reid completely unacceptable compared to his opponent Sharron Engle who has been judged to be 100% pro-life by the Susan B. Anthony List and National Right to Life.

The aspect of the Catholic vote that Angle and her advisors should concern themselves about is Latino Catholics. Latinos constituted 15% of the Nevada vote in the 2008 presidential election, up from 10% in 2004. 76% of Latinos in Nevada voted for Candidate Obama in 2008.

The danger for Angle and the GOP, as Michael Sean Winters has pointed out, is that Angle’s strong push against immigration reform will also push the Latino vote strongly toward the incumbent. Indeed, pro-abortion Catholics in the Congress, like Representative Linda Sanchez (D, CA-39), have been stumping for Reid among Latino voters.

Latino voters are often described as natural social conservatives, which may have accounted for the strong support of George W. Bush in 2004, but the immigration debates of 2005 cooled their ardor towards the GOP.

Angle’s solid pro-life position should win her a majority of non-Hispanic Catholic voters. But the Latino Catholic vote may remain wedded to immigration reform for the near future regardless of Senator Harry Reid’s dismissive attitude towards protecting the unborn.

‘The Right Is Mean, and the Left Is Foul’

Deal W. Hudson
Published April 2, 2009

The rising temperature of the debate over President Barack Obama’s scheduled visit to Notre Dame has created some heated rhetoric on both sides. Bishop Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg criticized Notre Dame’s decision but was himself criticized for complaining about the “uncivil and venomous” comments made by those opposing the honor being bestowed on President Obama.

Bishop Lynch is exactly right in raising this concern. Here is what he says:

The rhetoric being employed is so uncivil and venomous that it weakens the case we place before our fellow citizens, alienates young college-age students who believe the older generation is behaving like an angry child, and they do not wish to be any part of that, and ill-serves the cause of life (emphasis added).

Granted, some will label as uncivil any assertion about the truth of the Catholic Faith. These tactical accusations of incivility are exactly what they appear to be – an attempt to silence and discredit all who defend the Church. Putting that tactic aside, it does weaken our case for orthodoxy when it is couched in vicious name-calling, profanity, and unsupported generalizations.

Some say the coarseness of their rhetoric is justified by the truth they speak or by the crimes they decry, such as abortion. In my opinion, they either don’t care about persuading anyone who’s listening, or they don’t know they’re providing an excuse for people to ignore what they say. A good illustration of that approach is the effort of Randall Terry at Notre Dame. Terry has gone to such an extreme that Archbishop Raymond Burke had to dissociate himself from the use Terry was making of his comments.

The last thing orthodox Catholics need to do is bring discredit to a bishop who has the courage to speak his mind.

Archbishop Charles Chaput, another bishop who speaks his mind, recently spoke in an interview with the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life about his experience with e-mail rudeness. He attributes the vitriol to the “immediacy” of Internet communication, “which means we immediately speak out of our emotions rather than write a letter.” Just as important is anonymity behind which most people hide when making comments or posting on Web sites.

Some of the most vicious e-mails Archbishop Chaput has received, he says, are from “Catholic conservatives” who want him to excommunicate pro-abortion Catholic politicians. But he has noticed an interesting difference between how conservatives and liberals are impolite.

“The Left mail I get will use terrible words but be less vitriolic. They use the F-word and things like that, call me names like that. The Right is meaner, but they’re not as foul.”

The Right is mean, and the Left is foul – that observation matches my experience in the virtual world. The Left often resorts to expletives to express their disapproval; whereas the Right, including Catholic conservatives, will indict your faith, your intelligence, and your love for your mother if you happen to disappoint them.

Rudeness has nearly become the rule, rather than the exception, on the Internet. Blogs, forums, e-mails, and comment sections are hothouses for the unedited savagery of the miscreant, the coward, and the Pharisee. Yet it is the place where we have chosen to speak with a Catholic voice. As Archbishop Chaput has said of his own reaction to hateful e-mails: “The Lord reminds us that we are sheep among wolves, but it’s important for us not to become wolves ourselves because of our experience.”

It’s a sore temptation to respond in kind to such attacks. Most Catholics will agree with Bishop Lynch and Archbishop Chaput that our best chance for changing minds and being successful evangelists is speaking with a tone of voice that offers no excuse to turn away.

Canadian Priest Accuses Pro-Lifers of Hatred and Bullying

Deal W. Hudson
Published September 14, 2009

One of Canada’s best-known priests, Rev. Thomas Rosica, CSB, has describedthe pro-life critics of the Kennedy funeral as “not agents of life, but of division, destruction, hatred, vitriol, judgment, and violence.” Father Rosica is CEO of a Catholic Canadian television network – Salt + Light, endorsed by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.

In his September 3 blogpost, Father Rosica also made a veiled criticism ofRaymond Arroyo, News Director of EWTN, for his August 31 comment, “Ted Kennedy: Catholic Legacy and the Letters.” Father Rosica aimed his criticism at the “many so-called lovers of life and activists in the pro-life movement, as well as well known colleagues in Catholic television broadcasting and media in North America.” There is no one he could have meant but Arroyo, because no other colleagues in Catholic television have made negative comments about the funeral.

As a result, LifeSiteNews, based in Toronto, covered the story on September 4 with an article titled “Battle of the Catholic Stations: Salt and Light’s Fr. Rosica Rips EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo over Kennedy Funeral.” John-Henry Westen, writing for LifeSiteNews, opined, “The root of Fr. Rosica’s concerns seems to be the fact that lay persons are daring to publicly question the actions of clergy.”

Faher Rosica, however, later slammed Westen’s article and denied his reference was aimed directly at Arroyo. In a September 9 interview with Bob Dunning on “Across the Nation” (Sirius Catholic Radio), the priest said:

I don’t agree with Raymond Arroyo’s blog that he wrote criticizing Cardinals McCarrick and O’Malley… For them to say that I aimed everything at Raymond Arroyo; there were about 20 different people. Raymond Arroyo was the most public that they cited, which I didn’t mention in my article, but we all saw Raymond Arroyo’s blog, but we saw many other people stirring up – and priests especially, who claim to be pro-life, causing more division in the Church. (Taken from a transcript of the program.)

Father Rosica went on to explain to Dunning, “I think civility, charity, kindness, and humanity – when they fall from the picture, when they are not present, we have a big problem on our hands.” Yet, in his September 3 blogpost this is how he described the critics of the Kennedy funeral:

Through vicious attacks launched on blogs, a new form of self-righteousness, condemnation, and gnosticism reveals authors whobehave as little children bullying one another around in schoolyards – casting stones, calling names, and wreaking havoc in the Church today!What such people fail to realize is that their messages are ultimately screamed into a vacuum. No one but their own loud crowd is really listening… Sowing seeds of hatred and division are not the work of those who wish to build a culture of life (emphasis added).

I have read through Arroyo’s comment several times and have found nothing like what Father Rosica describes above. Interestingly enough, the priest also took a swing at the internationally respected LifeSite News:

For the 1/10th of kernel of truth that they purport to uncover, and there is truth in what they do, 9/10ths is exaggeration. It is bombastic, it is derisive and it is divisive (emphasis added).

Once again I find nothing in Westen’s story that sounds as “bombastic” as Father Rosica’s own comments.

Father Rosica is an influential priest as well as an accomplished scholar. He has been known to defend Catholic dissenters in the past, as he did in 1996 as director of the Newman Center at the University of Toronto. A group of faithful Catholics were peacefully protesting a lecture by noted dissenter and defrocked theologian Gregory Baum at Toronto University’s Catholic Newman Centre.

Father Rosica called the police to remove a group of protesters handing out flyers documenting the damage Professor Baum, an excommunicated priest, had done the Church. “That’s pure madness in those flyers,” Toronto’s Catholic Register(May 27, 1996) reported Father Rosica as saying. (Baum was one of the leading dissenters from Humanae Vitae.)

Not surprisingly, Father Rosica now criticizes those who questioned the wisdom of a funeral for a famously pro-abortion politician which, as Arroyo wrote, “was truly about cementing the impression, indeed catechizing the faithful, that one can be a Catholic politician, and so long as you claim to care about the poor, you may licitly ignore the cause of life.”

Yes, there were scattered blog comments attacking the funeral and the participation of Cardinals O’Malley and McCarrick. But I am not aware of a single recognized Catholic commentator who is guilty of the invective which Father Rosica describes. Just as I wrote last week that none of the major critics of the Kennedy funeral was guilty of what Bishop Morlino warned against – delight in a soul’s damnation – none is guilty of “the division, destruction, hatred, vitriol, judgment, and violence” bemoaned by Father Rosica.

He told Dunning, “Let’s call a spade, a spade.” Indeed, let’s! We should begin by hearing the names of the “20 different people” who are sowing this division by disagreeing with Father Rosica. That would be a good place to start.

Will the Church Split Along Red and Blue Lines?

Deal W. Hudson
Published 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 are 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 — as well as the follow-up statement from Cardinal Rigali and Bishop William Murphy — 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. Daniel Cardinal Dinardo of Houston
42. Bishop Joseph Galante of Camden
43. Bishop Arthur Serratelli of Patterson, NJ
44. Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Harrisburg, PA
45. Joint Statement by the bishops of New York State (22 bishops)
(Please let me know if I have left any bishops off this list.)

Public Lynching of the Priesthood

Deal W. Hudson

Let me ask you a question: Do you really think that the media, and The Boston Globe in particular, are really interested in strengthening the Church? I think we all know the answer to that.

It should be very clear from the coverage of this scandal that the real object of the media feeding frenzy is the priesthood itself-the “unnatural” state of unmarried men living in a celibate state.

I’ll give you an example. Last week, I was asked to participate in a live cable TV news show on the recent scandal where I responded to comments like, “If there were married priests, they’d have a better gene pool!” and “If married men were allowed to enter the seminary they’d have better character to start with.”

As for “media objectivity,” the first twenty minutes of the hour-long show were given over to a barrage of comments against the unmarried, male priesthood. This included man-on-the-street interviews (all but one of which advocated a married priesthood and included insightful comments like, “If priests were married, they’d stop molesting children”); subtitles running across the bottom of the screen (with helpful notes like, “The celibate priesthood is a manmade institution); and an ongoing TV poll asking viewers whether or not priests should be allowed to marry (“You don’t have to be Catholic to participate!”).

The first guest was your typical Catholic-school-educated angry journalist who kept waving his arms furiously while squealing, “It’s unnatural! It’s unnatural!”

When I pointed out that “humans are not just animals, and it’s natural for human beings to guide their actions by intelligent choices,” he replied that “we are just animals.” I’m sure the nuns didn’t teach him that.

The other guests were equally as helpful…a former priest who left to marry, and a psychologist who treats pedophile priests. My only ally on the panel was an evangelical Christian who kept pointing out that pedophilia is not a celibacy issue. While I’m not sure why he was there, I’m certainly glad he was.

The show’s moderator, Lynn Doyle, told me that she had a difficult time getting anyone on the show to defend priestly celibacy. I said that celibacy should be rather easy to defend, especially in a culture where sexual behavior has damaged so many people.

The fact that you have 46,000 men in the U.S. and 100,000 men around the world who have dedicated themselves totally to the service of Catholics is a powerful witness to a generation addicted to genital satisfaction.

There’s certainly no way for the Church to excuse what happened to the many victims of priestly pedophilia. But the Church can defend herself against the charge that the priesthood is somehow to blame. Lets make sure, in the midst of all the shrill reporting, that the truth doesn’t fall victim to the media’s agenda.

By the way, despite the best efforts of the guests and the show’s producers, at the end of the program, the TV poll showed that 80% of the viewers agreed that priests should remain celibate.

Published during the furor over the priestly “pedophile” scandal.

Adoption: A Love Story

Deal W. Hudson

Reprinted with permission from our good friends at InsideCatholic.com, the leading online journal of Catholic faith, culture, and politics.

I was relaxing in my favorite armchair and watching golf when my daughter, Hannah, strode into the room. “Dad,” she said, “we need to have a serious talk.”

“Okay,” I replied, turning to her.

She frowned. “You’re going to have to turn the TV off.”

“Oh.” I tapped the remote control. This was serious.

Almost automatically, she began. “Dad, I don’t really want to be an only child. I think we should adopt a baby brother.”

Silence.

After picking my jaw up off the coffee table, I found my voice. “Where did this come from?” I asked. “It’s kind of out-of-the-blue.”

She shook her head. “Not really. I just don’t want to live the rest of my life without any brothers or sisters. What would happen to me if something bad happened to you and Mom? I’d be alone.”

Sure, I understood what she meant… intellectually. My own mother was an only child and had always warned me against letting Hannah become one. Still, here I was, approaching 50. Hannah was becoming a teenager, and I was thinking more about financing her college days than decorating a baby’s room. I was comfortable, but I also felt stretched to the limit with running a magazine and trying to make a graceful trek through middle age. Another child just wasn’t part of the plan.

“Let me think about it,” I said. It was the best I could do at the moment.

Hannah would not be turned away so easily. She moved her lobbying efforts to my wife, Theresa, who is not only younger but also wiser in these matters. I don’t know that she was necessarily won over by Hannah – in fact, I suspect she’d been thinking about adopting all along. She just hadn’t told me.

That soon changed.

When they approached me together, I really felt the female pressure. Let me point out: My household is almost exclusively female. The only male soul mate I have is a white Bichon Frise named Willie who caves in instantly to anything our overstrung female standard poodle, Darcy, demands of him. And needless to say, Musette, the cat, isn’t exactly in my camp either.

I was standing against the full phalanx of female power – my wife, my daughter, and several members of the animal kingdom. Hannah began the negotiations, “Dad, Mom and I have come to a decision: We want to adopt a baby brother.”

We? I turned to Theresa. She smiled weakly and nodded in agreement.

This was going to be harder than I thought.

I put on my toughest face and asked them if they were prepared for the demands of an adopted child. “Hannah, you know this will mean less for you; you’ve had everything to yourself for a long time – all your parents’ attention and your own time and space to do what you want. You’d have to share everything, including us.”

She didn’t even flinch. “This is my brother we’re talking about here. Of course I won’t mind sharing.”

“You’d also have to split the inheritance,” I offered, a little sheepishly. That got a serious eye-roll from Hannah.

Fine. It was time for the big guns. I turned to my wife. “With Hannah going into seventh grade, you were just starting to get a little freedom during the day to do what you wanted. Do you really want to give that up?”

She paused for a moment, then shrugged. “I just always saw myself with more than one child. I don’t feel like that’s all there is for me as a parent. Besides, it’s the best thing for Hannah.”

They didn’t shrink from my questions, and frankly, I felt like a jerk asking them. But I know my family – we have a habit of diving into projects before counting the cost. This time I was going to make sure everything was out on the table.

So, with their arguments concluded and their eyes searching for my answer, it was time to render my decision: I said I’d think about it.

The following week, as I was still “thinking about it,” I walked past Hannah’s room, peeking in as I passed. What I saw floored me. There, beside her bed, my daughter was praying the rosary – for her brother!

Now don’t get me wrong: Hannah is a strong Catholic. She has gone to the local parish school since first grade and knows her faith. But she’s never been outwardly pious. That’s why her prayer stopped me cold. If she’s praying for her brother, I thought, then her brother must really be out there. Somewhere.

I walked into the kitchen, told Theresa what I’d seen, and asked, “How do we get this adoption started?”

She smiled. “The paperwork is on my desk.”

Adoption: A Love Story

by Deal Hudson – January 17, 2009

Reprinted with permission from our good friends at InsideCatholic.com, the leading online journal of Catholic faith, culture, and politics.

I was relaxing in my favorite armchair and watching golf when my daughter, Hannah, strode into the room. “Dad,” she said, “we need to have a serious talk.”

“Okay,” I replied, turning to her.

She frowned. “You’re going to have to turn the TV off.”

“Oh.” I tapped the remote control. This was serious.

Almost automatically, she began. “Dad, I don’t really want to be an only child. I think we should adopt a baby brother.”

Silence.

After picking my jaw up off the coffee table, I found my voice. “Where did this come from?” I asked. “It’s kind of out-of-the-blue.”

She shook her head. “Not really. I just don’t want to live the rest of my life without any brothers or sisters. What would happen to me if something bad happened to you and Mom? I’d be alone.”

Sure, I understood what she meant… intellectually. My own mother was an only child and had always warned me against letting Hannah become one. Still, here I was, approaching 50. Hannah was becoming a teenager, and I was thinking more about financing her college days than decorating a baby’s room. I was comfortable, but I also felt stretched to the limit with running a magazine and trying to make a graceful trek through middle age. Another child just wasn’t part of the plan.

“Let me think about it,” I said. It was the best I could do at the moment.

Hannah would not be turned away so easily. She moved her lobbying efforts to my wife, Theresa, who is not only younger but also wiser in these matters. I don’t know that she was necessarily won over by Hannah – in fact, I suspect she’d been thinking about adopting all along. She just hadn’t told me.

That soon changed.

When they approached me together, I really felt the female pressure. Let me point out: My household is almost exclusively female. The only male soul mate I have is a white Bichon Frise named Willie who caves in instantly to anything our overstrung female standard poodle, Darcy, demands of him. And needless to say, Musette, the cat, isn’t exactly in my camp either.

I was standing against the full phalanx of female power – my wife, my daughter, and several members of the animal kingdom. Hannah began the negotiations, “Dad, Mom and I have come to a decision: We want to adopt a baby brother.”

We? I turned to Theresa. She smiled weakly and nodded in agreement.

This was going to be harder than I thought.

I put on my toughest face and asked them if they were prepared for the demands of an adopted child. “Hannah, you know this will mean less for you; you’ve had everything to yourself for a long time – all your parents’ attention and your own time and space to do what you want. You’d have to share everything, including us.”

She didn’t even flinch. “This is my brother we’re talking about here. Of course I won’t mind sharing.”

“You’d also have to split the inheritance,” I offered, a little sheepishly. That got a serious eye-roll from Hannah.

Fine. It was time for the big guns. I turned to my wife. “With Hannah going into seventh grade, you were just starting to get a little freedom during the day to do what you wanted. Do you really want to give that up?”

She paused for a moment, then shrugged. “I just always saw myself with more than one child. I don’t feel like that’s all there is for me as a parent. Besides, it’s the best thing for Hannah.”

They didn’t shrink from my questions, and frankly, I felt like a jerk asking them. But I know my family – we have a habit of diving into projects before counting the cost. This time I was going to make sure everything was out on the table.

So, with their arguments concluded and their eyes searching for my answer, it was time to render my decision: I said I’d think about it.

The following week, as I was still “thinking about it,” I walked past Hannah’s room, peeking in as I passed. What I saw floored me. There, beside her bed, my daughter was praying the rosary – for her brother!

Now don’t get me wrong: Hannah is a strong Catholic. She has gone to the local parish school since first grade and knows her faith. But she’s never been outwardly pious. That’s why her prayer stopped me cold. If she’s praying for her brother, I thought, then her brother must really be out there. Somewhere.

I walked into the kitchen, told Theresa what I’d seen, and asked, “How do we get this adoption started?”

She smiled. “The paperwork is on my desk.”

Finding the Other Hudson

Theresa started her adoption inquiries immediately. She first called Bill Pearce, who was then the head of the National Adoption Council. He gave her some good leads, including an enthusiastic recommendation for the Small World adoption agency in Nashville, Tennessee. Two Baptists, Jim Savely and Jim Savely, Jr., run Small World, whose excellent services eventually helped us to find Hannah’s unknown brother.

Small World had been working in eastern Europe since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Because of our combined ages, Theresa and I had decided to look for an overseas adoption. We initially considered adopting in the tiny country of Moldavia because of its friendly attitude toward Christian couples looking for children. Later, we turned to Russia when we learned that more children were available and that things would move faster.

The process of adopting overseas is arduous and expensive. After finding the agency and deciding on the place and age of the child, you must be fingerprinted by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and fill out an I600A form that opens a file at the INS. Then you start what’s called a “home study.”

The home study – conducted by a licensed agency – is a state requirement that determines a parent’s financial and psychological fitness to adopt a child. It costs about $1,800. Once this has been completed and approved – about three months from start to finish – the INS passes on an approval letter to the country from which you are adopting. Agency fees are about $7,000 for a foreign adoption, and the country fees for eastern Europe run between $10,000 and $12,000. The one-week trip adds another $5,000 to the total, plus what my wife calls the “a la carte charges,” such as the cost of translating your documents into a foreign language.

All told, this was going to be an expensive venture.

Our INS letter, sent to Moscow in July 2000, was good for one year. But in August, we received some bad news: President Vladimir Putin stopped all international adoption until new regulations could be put in place to safeguard the children. Our adoption ground to a halt. For how long, we could only guess.

Cyprian

After hearing nothing from Russia for months, Jim Savely called to tell us about Cyprian, a four-year-old up for adoption in Romania. It was mid-November. If we said yes, we would have him by March.

We really hadn’t planned on an older child; we’d been looking for a boy between one and two years old. From everything we’d read and heard, we knew that the younger the child, the less likely he was to have been hurt by his surroundings or lack of nutrition. And like everyone else, we knew the horror stories about Romanian orphanages.

But by then, Jim had a good feeling for us and for what we wanted. He assured us that Cyprian was in excellent health and was a perfect fit for the Hudson family. Pictures would follow, he promised.

In spite of our trust in Jim, we were skeptical. Think about our situation: We’d gone from considering an anonymous one-year-old boy in Russia to a specific four-year-old in Romania. It was all very sudden.

That changed the next day when the photo arrived. We looked into the face of a smiling boy with remarkably big eyes – Omar Sharif eyes, I called them at the time. Cyprian radiated well-being. Nothing about him seemed beaten-down or deprived. He looked extraordinarily alive, and we couldn’t wait to get our arms around him. This was our boy, the one Hannah had been praying for. No doubt about it.

The trip was set for March. We painted Cyprian’s room blue and decorated it with an airplane motif – he’d be seeing a lot of airplanes on his trip to America. Showers were held; clothes and toys collected. Everything was ready when word arrived that there would be yet another delay: The Romanian legislature had changed the rules regarding adoption, and our legal papers had to be returned to the judge for another signature.

We waited again. The delay by the Russian government was disappointing, but we were glad the adoption procedures were being cleaned up and that the children would be safer as a result. But the delay by the Romanian legislature came as a blow. We kept looking at Cyprian’s picture, trying to imagine what he’d really be like. And was he safe and being taken care of? We didn’t know.

As summer approached, we had no idea when we would be traveling. Airfares were getting higher, and seats, especially four in the same row, would be hard to book. Matt Wray, my associate publisher, tried to keep me cheered up by scouring the Internet and sending me cheap airfare rates to Bucharest.

In mid-May, the green light came: We had an appointment with the Romanian judge on June 21, and later that day, we would meet Cyprian. Theresa bought the tickets – four in a row – immediately. She also invested in a new digital videocamera, which I thought was a bit overboard. But what the heck! This was an event we’d want to remember.

Shortly after our plane touched down, we heard that Romania, like Russia, was suspending international adoptions on that very day. We were there just under the wire!

Our Romanian host, Tudose Diaconu – a man I fondly nicknamed “the Deacon” – met us at our hotel in Bucharest. He was an attorney and former government bureaucrat who made the wheels turn in the courts and agencies that control adoption. He spoke excellent English and dressed in impeccable European fashion.

As we learned the next day, he also liked to drive fast.

The road to Galati, where we were to meet the judge, was two lanes all the way. We passed at least a dozen horse-drawn gypsy carts. Our driver, urged on by the Deacon, drove the way I did when I was a college student trying to get from Austin to Lubbock for a Friday-night date. The countryside passed in a blur as we swerved between horses and cars, blazing our way. Thanks to much prayer, we arrived safely.

Happily, the judge who would decide the adoption didn’t change his mind when he met me. Of course, he didn’t smile at me either. No matter. He gave us Cyprian’s passport.

We were ready to meet my new son in Bucharest, but there was something I needed to do first. Galati is the town where Cyprian, we are told, had lived from birth with a foster family. I wanted to meet the family. The Deacon tried to talk me out of it, but I insisted. This was important.

The apartment where he lived was pleasant enough, by Romanian standards. Still, it had a cell-block quality that made me sad. How remarkable it was that the smiling boy in the photograph could have spent so many days in such surroundings. He must be a pretty resilient character, I thought.

From the foster mother, I got another bit of unexpected news: Cyprian had not lived with her for three and a half years, as we’d been told. Cyprian had only been with them for a year. He had actually been raised in a Galati orphanage. My stomach dropped out. Life as a Romanian orphan is a hard one, sure to leave long-term scars. I told the Deacon I wanted to see the orphanage. He said we couldn’t because of all the bad publicity Romanian orphanages had been receiving from the media. It could be dangerous.

But I wasn’t leaving Galati without seeing the place where my son had spent the first three years of his life. Seeing that I was stubborn, the Deacon sighed and nodded his head.

We arrived at what looked like a concrete bunker surrounded by a tall, gray fence. Behind a rusting iron gate, I could see an asphalt plaground – consisting of nothing more than the asphalt. Really, it looked more like a prison than an orphanage. Visitors were obviously not welcome.

Being impulsive, I jumped out with the videocamera and started filming the buildings. I was suddenly surrounded by a horde of curious children, crying to have their pictures taken. Their excited voices attracted the orphanage security guard, who started running toward me. The Deacon, a quick-thinking and sensible man, grabbed my elbow and pulled me back into the car. As we zoomed away, I wondered if anyone would ever be back to save all those beautiful children.

Preparing for the Big Moment

In Bucharest, Theresa and Hannah were ready for our meeting with Cyprian. A Bucharest physician and his wife had been kind enough to take care of our son for the past month. He welcomed us warmly and seated us in the living room of his upper-middle-class house.

“I’ll get him,” he said.

Sitting alone, Theresa, Hannah, and I looked at one another knowing life was about to change in a big way. Would Cyprian be ready to leave this place, never to return? We were excited… and nervous. There wasn’t much talk.

Cyprian was rubbing his eyes when he came in. He’d just been napping. I was surprised by how small he was – the large personality I saw in the photograph had made me expect a bigger child. Theresa took the first turn trying to give Cyprian the stuffed bear we’d carried from home, but he wasn’t interested and stayed close to his foster father, hiding his face behind the man’s leg. Small talk didn’t seem to work either; it was an emotional stalemate, and we all felt awkward.

A green balloon lay nearby, and the foster father, seeing our discomfort, had the good idea of throwing it to Cyprian. He immediately tossed it back, and the ice was broken. His face went from a shy neutral into a laughing drive: Around the room he followed the balloon, from me to Theresa to Hannah. We all shared in the game and were a family from that moment on.

As we were getting into the car, Cyprian grabbed my sunglasses and put them on his face, laughing and smiling, just like the big-eyed boy in the photo. We pulled the car onto the main drive and turned back to wave a last time to his foster father. The kind man had tears in his eyes.

We had one last appointment before things were made official: A doctor had to approve Cyprian’s health. When we arrived for our meeting, I had one very simple task: to keep Cyprian from destroying the doctor’s office while we waited. It was much harder than it sounds. Believe me. Still, chasing Cyprian around was great. I already loved him, and this made running around after him okay with me. Losing control and getting out of my comfort zone felt pretty good. I was smiling so hard my face hurt.

After the physician examined Cyprian, she turned to me and said, “You have come in time for this one.” I’ve often wondered what she meant. I can only assume that she’d seen other children who had suffered the ravages of Romanian orphanages and knew about the recent moratorium on adoptions.

Cyprian kept up his fast pace as we returned to the hotel. I imagine it was highly entertaining for the staff to watch the American dad chase his four-year-old Romanian son across the lobby on the first day of their lives together.

We spent another three days in Bucharest, and thanks to Archbishop Sohu, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Romania, we learned more about that remarkable country. Supplied with an introduction, I phoned the archbishop to ask for a meeting. I was excited to meet the man who, since becoming a bishop in 1984, had been such a strong leader of Romanian Catholics under communism. After an initial interview, he invited me and my family back for dinner.

As we ate, the archbishop told us that Romania has about 2 million Catholics – roughly 7 percent of the population. He oversees two thriving seminaries serving more than 300 students. Catholics maintain a friendly relationship with the dominant Orthodox faith in the country. In fact, he recalled that Orthodox leaders were shocked at the enthusiastic reception given to John Paul II during his 1999 visit.

After dinner, the archbishop brought out gifts for our family, including a rosary for Cyprian. He put his arms around our son and prayed the Ave Maria in Romanian. Yes, we are very blessed, I thought.

Home With Our Son

We left Romania the next day, wishing we could bring a plane full of children like Cyprian home to the States. Romania is a beautiful country, with an attractive and charming people, but it will be many years before it recovers from decades of Soviet control and the corruption of the post-Soviet government.

For my part, I’m grateful my family has taught me once again the lesson of the “gift of self” that our Holy Father has so often mentioned. It hasn’t been all sweetness and light: Hannah feels the loss of attention, Theresa is often run ragged, and I’m learning every day how much harder it is to raise a boy than a girl. But it’s worth it. All of it.

Cyprian Joseph Hudson was baptized a few months later in Fairfax, Virginia. It was what’s called a “conditional baptism” because there’s no way to know whether he received the sacrament as a baby. His godfather, Tom Murray, had to do the honors of holding Cyprian over the baptismal font because his dad was recovering from an emergency appendectomy.

“Chippy,” as he calls himself, didn’t flinch as the water rolled off his brow. He handled the baptism just like he has everything else: as if he had always been with us, as if being a Hudson had been in the cards all along.

Published January 17, 2009