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Catholics for a Free Choice Calls on Republican Party to Review Relationships with Catholic Leaders

August 19, 2004

Statement of Frances Kissling on the resignation of Deal Hudson as adviser to the Republican National Committee on Catholic outreach and advisor to Bush Campaign on Catholic issues

WASHINGTON DC—The devastating revelations disclosed today by the National Catholic Reporter regarding past sexual harassment of a young student by Deal Hudson while he was her professor at Fordham University are deeply disturbing. Equally disturbing is Hudson’s inadequate response to these events, which focused on the claim that these matters were long ago satisfactorily concluded.

It is entirely appropriate that Hudson resign his position with the Bush Campaign and the Republican Party based on this event. It is equally important that this be more than a resignation in name only, and that the Republican National Committee and the White House distance themselves from Hudson and other conservative Catholics who have been disrespectful of women and have engaged in a politics of personal destruction for some time.

The record of the Republican Party and President Bush regarding sensitivity to women’s rights is at best spotty. The remarks made by Hudson regarding this event as well as others on the Catholic right who have already sought to blame the young woman who was sexually abused by Hudson are sufficient cause for Hudson’s political supporters to take a second look at who in the Catholic community best represents moral values and decency.

One certainly hopes that this current crisis provides Hudson with an opportunity for reflection and change. Public exposure of the personal lives and mistakes of high profile people is not pleasant, and it should not be a source of satisfaction for those who disagree with the policies of those exposed. But matters of character are appropriate issues when evaluating fitness for public service, and Hudson’s past is relevant even now.

Hudson and his colleagues on the right have conducted a particularly ugly style of politics. They have shown no regard for civility or respect in their encounters, articles, and other commentary on those who disagree with them. Perhaps they will learn something as they experience a small taste of what they have dished out for so long