Actually, this is for the record

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles ) | 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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  • Posted by: John J Plick - Aug. 26, 2004 10:56 PM ET USA

    "Do not expose evil or I will reveal all of your sins!" That is the cry of Satan, and NOT of Our Lord. When we truly repent of our sins He promises to throw them into "the Sea of Forgetfullness." In the words of Pope John XXIII "Coraggio...!"

  • Posted by: - Aug. 25, 2004 2:24 PM ET USA

    The "those without sin cast the first stone" objection as it is too often used would prevent anyone from speaking against even the grossest evil acts. I think Hudson is being penalized for his political stand not because he did something wrong. Nevertheless, Jesus was teaching against hyprocrisy and "taking the log out of your own eye first." He was not teaching that we keep silent and condone gross immorality or moral relativism. If we keep silent the stones themselves may cry out.

  • Posted by: - Aug. 25, 2004 3:20 AM ET USA

    Wisdom is justified by her children.Keep telling the truth as that is what "sets us free".Wycliffe

  • Posted by: - Aug. 25, 2004 2:10 AM ET USA

    What it's really all about: TELL THE TRUTH ! But they would not, and still will not. Satan was called the "father of lies." Who gave us the lying bishops ? Nevertheless, I think the Reporter not clean enough to wipe a pig's backside !

  • Posted by: - Aug. 24, 2004 7:18 PM ET USA

    The only happy one in this discourse is Satan.

  • Posted by: - Aug. 24, 2004 5:42 PM ET USA

    What bothers me is that there are a lot of people here who have forgotten the approach of the Master. Whoever among them that is without sin, let him/her cast the first stone. And even then, as St. Philip Neri quipped, "There but for the grace of God go I." Jashu

  • Posted by: - Aug. 24, 2004 2:43 PM ET USA

    The apostles did not shrink from speaking the truth about their own past sins, and thereby gave us an example of how to be forgiven and bear fruit for God, even after forsaking Him. You can read about their terrible scandle, too, in the New Testament. The truth will set you free, even if it is published in a liberal rag!

  • Posted by: Charles134 - Aug. 24, 2004 12:28 PM ET USA

    "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." The same applies, I hope, to CWR. How, then, to explain the Fr. Fessio piece, a bit of Ave Maria Florida propaganda disguised as an interview, in the current issue. I read CWN and CWR mostly for commentary, not hard news, but I expect you good folks to distinguish between the two.

  • Posted by: - Aug. 24, 2004 11:33 AM ET USA

    There should be no need for apology or explanation about this or any other story involving a public figure violating the moral law and using power and authority to victimize the weak and vulnerable.