"A Minor Kerfuffle"

December 2003

On Friday, July 11, the Boston Globe printed a story called “Bishops Seek Out Opinions, in Private: Conference Focus Is Church Future.” On the very same day, we got a Crisis magazine e-Letter from Deal Hudson, saying: “You’re about to get angry. Very angry…. Let me tell you the news that’ll send your blood boiling…. This morning, the Boston Globe dropped a bombshell of a story…. explaining that some top bishops ‘met secretly with a group of prominent Catholic business executives, academics, and journalists to discuss the future of the church.’” Hudson characterized those who met with the top bishops as showing “sympathy with dissenting points of view.”

So, after reading the entire e-Letter as well as the Globe story, we thought to ourselves: Is there something unusual here? We’re not angry, and our blood isn’t boiling. What’s wrong with us?

After talking with a few people, we realized that our reaction was quite normal. And we were confirmed in our take on that “blood-boiling” meeting when Fr. Richard John Neuhaus called it “a minor kerfuffle,” adding, “yes, I know, a kerfuffle is minor by definition, but some are more minor than others” (First Things, Oct. 2003).

So, what in the world made Hudson go ballistic? Musing about it, we came up with a theory.

Hudson’s e-Letter says that “the author [of the Globe story] refers over and over to the ‘prominent’ Catholics” who attended the meeting with the top bishops. And Hudson himself refers over and over to the issue of who is and who isn’t a “prominent” Catholic. Hudson adds, “There isn’t a single person on the list known for his or her stand in support of faithfulness to the Magisterium, the pope, and the teachings of the Church. If this was a meeting of ‘prominent Catholics,’ where are the prominent orthodox representatives? Where are George Weigel, Michael Novak, and Father Neuhaus?” — or for that matter Deal Hudson?

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New Oxford Notes: December 2003

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