As you know, for many years I’ve encouraged faithful Catholics to get more involved in politics. My own involvement began unexpectedly after CRISIS Magazine published a series of articles on “the Catholic vote,” which caught the attention of the Bush presidential campaign.
At that time, I was asked to be part of the team advising on their outreach to Catholic voters. I agreed.
For too long, the Catholic vote had been misunderstood, in part because of the simple enormity and diversity of the Catholic population in America. The CRISIS model assumed the targetable, crucial part of the Catholic vote could be found among the Mass-attending faithful. Indeed, those voters who are religiously active are most likely to let their faith guide their voting decision.
Employing this strategy, Governor Bush received ten percent more of the Catholic vote in 2000 than Senator Dole had in 1996.
The present campaign, however, is very different from the last one.
Senator Kerry, a pro-abortion Catholic, became the Democratic-party nominee. The question of the Catholic vote went to center stage. Controversies ensued. Kerry insisted he was Catholic in spite of his support for abortion. I argued, loudly, that the election of John Kerry would be a disaster for the Church. My first press statement after his nomination was that Church institutions parishes, schools, hospitals, etc. should be off limits to Kerry or anyone who wants to use the platform of the Catholic Church to undermine its authority and attack its teachings.
It was then I learned that the moderator of the “Catholics for Kerry” Web site a young man named Ono Ekeh was an employee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. A few days after I pointed this out, he left his job at the Conference.
Right away, the phone rang and a reporter from a notoriously liberal Catholic publication requested a comment and an interview. A few days later, he came in to ask questions about my support for President Bush and the Catholic vote issues in general.
Weeks passed and no story. But then, over time, friends began telling me that the reporter was calling my past co-workers and associates and asking them about my personal life.
Last week, the article was published. In it, they dug up a truly embarrassing event from my past. Ten years ago, I committed a serious sin with an undergraduate student of mine while teaching at Fordham University. For this I am truly and deeply sorry. I have confessed this and asked for forgiveness, my family has worked through it, and time has passed. But I know this is news to you, and so I offer my sincerest apologies. I recognize that I have let countless people down and have brought scandal to myself, my family, and my Faith. For this, I beg your forgiveness.
Some may wonder why I speak of the event in a way that seems vague or abstract. Please don't mistake this for lack of shame, regret, or repentance. The simple fact is, I can't say any more about it. Ten years ago, I signed a confidentiality agreement, and so I'm seriously constrained in what I can say. I know this is frustrating for you, and so that's one more thing I apologize for.
I need to make one final point. There's much deserved condemnation coming down upon me right now, and I expect it will continue. But I do hope that this just anger will not spill over onto CRISIS Magazine. The simple fact is, CRISIS Magazine is far more than Deal Hudson. There is an entire staff of hardworking and faithful Catholics who, month after month, put together what has become the flagship publication for faithful Catholics. It would be a tragedy if my personal baggage were to harm CRISIS. Our many staff members, columnists, and writers have simply worked too hard and done too much good to be pulled down by my faults.
Please don't let that happen.