Catholic Culture Dedication
Catholic Culture Dedication

Actually, this is for the record

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Aug 24, 2004

A somewhat hysterical Catholic blogger says that comments I made about the Deal Hudson affair have caused "confusion and outrage." If you read her rant, you can see that she's not kidding about being confused. But despite a couple of email exchanges, I still haven't been able to elicit any rational explanation for her "outrage."

For the record, here is the relevant portion of my comment from the Weekly News Summary that I sent out this past Saturday-- complete and unchanged (except for the correction of one obvious typo):

By now you may be wondering why I haven't listed another news story that burst upon us this week: the resignation of Deal Hudson, editor of Crisis magazine, from his role as adviser to the Bush presidential campaign. Frankly, I wish I could avoid the topic altogether, because I have nothing good to say about it. The exposé published by the National Catholic Reporter was obviously malicious; that very liberal paper was determined to damage a prominent Catholic conservative.

On the other hand, in the past few years we've learned, the hard way, to distinguish between the messenger and the message. Time after time, secular publications have carried shocking stories about Catholic priests and prelates, and although those publications may have been guided by anti-Catholic prejudice, the shocking stories proved to be true. Facts are facts, no matter who reports them.

At CWN we have made an editorial commitment to pursue the truth without blinking, to publish the facts as we know them, and to let the chips fall where they may. There have been many times when I've wished that we could ignore the facts, many times when I've wished we could avoid mentioning another aspect of the scandal that has troubled our Church. But if we did that, we would betray our own principles, and I firmly believe that in doing so we would damage the cause of Catholicism. How often have Catholic leaders ignored or even actively concealed wrongdoing, explaining that this was "for the good of the Church?" And how often has their silence created a far greater scandal?

So we're not going to cover up the facts in this case. The charges against Deal Hudson are, unfortunately, very grave. If the story in the National Catholic Reporter is accurate-- or even close to accurate-- then his conduct was neatly parallel to that of the clerics who shamefully exploited young people and then demanded (or bought) their silence. I can't condemn one and condone the other.

While I'd prefer to think that the charges are false, I cannot in good conscience dismiss them. Nor do I think that other readers should dismiss them-- even if you support the Bush administration, even if you admire Crisis magazine, even if you disdain the National Catholic Reporter. The great crisis of our time, the great scandal in Catholicism, is caused not sexual immorality, but by a failure to tell the truth-- in season and out of season, when it's convenient and when it hurts.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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