Raw Deal

By Geraldine Sealey
Published August 19, 2004 10:31PM (EDT)

This morning we linked to a New York Times story on the resignation of Deal Hudson, the Bush campaign adviser and point man on Catholic voters who is also publisher of the conservative Catholic journal Crisis. Hudson stepped down ahead of an investigative profile being penned about him in a Catholic publication. The piece by the National Catholic Reporter's Joe Feuerherd has now been published, and it's a doozy. Maybe now Hudson will stop lecturing people about morals and calling on U.S. clergy to denounce John Kerry "whenever and wherever he campaigns as a Catholic" because he doesn't agree with the Vatican on everything.

From NCR: "Hudson's rise to influence and his status as public arbiter of Catholic morals is all the more remarkable given that almost 10 years to the day of the 2004 St. Patrick's Day celebration, the then-Fordham University philosophy professor stood accused of breaching the bounds of the professor-student relationship. According to documents obtained by NCR, Hudson invited a vulnerable freshman undergraduate, Cara Poppas, to join a group of older students for a pre-Lenten 'Fat Tuesday' night of partying at a Greenwich Village bar. The night concluded after midnight in Hudson's Fordham office, where he and the drunken 18-year-old exchanged sexual favors. The fallout would force his resignation from a tenured position at the Jesuit school, cost him $30,000, and derail a promising academic career. It threatened public disgrace."

"But that was not Hudson's fate. Instead, he got another chance -- and made the most of it."

"  On Jan. 8 he was in the East Room for a presidential meeting with leaders of the National Catholic Educational Association. Later that month, on the day of the annual antiabortion March for Life, Hudson hosted the kick-off of the Republican National Committee's 'Catholic Outreach' effort, where his leadership was praised by RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie.

"The previous month, Hudson joined William Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, former Reagan and Bush I speechwriter Peggy Noonan, Kathryn Jean Lopez, associate editor of National Review magazine, and Vincentian Fr. David O'Connell, president of Catholic University, for a Roosevelt Room presidential briefing. On May 26, Hudson was one of nine conservative religion writers who joined Bush in the Oval office for an interview prior to the president's meeting with Pope John Paul II."

"That's the Deal Hudson Washington knows. Largely unfamiliar to the capital's movers and shakers just five years before, he has parlayed his position at the once-sleepy Crisis into significant influence on both church and state. He's respected by some, feared or disliked by many across the ideological spectrum, but taken seriously by all those who watch Catholic machinations in the capitol. Today, his columns and e-mail missives can get a staff person at the U.S. bishop's conference removed from a job or force a response from the conference's general secretary on the bishops' commitment to support the Federal Marriage Amendment; a year ago, his pique over a meeting between some American bishops and a group of 'dissidents' led leaders of the U.S. Catholic hierarchy to spend a day with their conservative critics."

Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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