National Catholic Reporter and Catholic Online editors clash over Deal Hudson

2 5 2010 FournierFeuerherd NCR Editor Joe Feuerherd / Deacon Keith Fournier

The editor of the National Catholic Reporter (NCR) threw another punch on Thursday in his protracted battle with Inside Catholic’s Dr. Deal Hudson, an act that Catholic Online’s Editor-in-Chief Deacon Keith Fournier finds to be morally objectionable and filled with calumny.

On February 2, 2010, Joe Feuerherd posted an article to the NCR blog, entitled, “Dealing from the Bottom of the Deck,” in which he criticized Deal Hudson for his publication and promotion of information from the American Life League and Bellarmine Veritas Ministry. Hudson's statement accused the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) and its director John Carr of being involved in promoting and funding pro-abortion and homosexual causes.

In response, Deacon Fournier published a response on February 4, saying that he “has no ‘dog in this fight,'” but that he could not ignore the “barrage of verbal bullets aimed directly at my friend Deal Hudson” in Joe Feuerherd's NCR blog posting.

The blog posting itself reminded readers that Deal Hudson is a “leader of efforts to get U.S. bishops to publicly confront pro-choice Catholic elected officials.” Hudson’s actions in this regard include advocating for the (successful) removal of the founder of Catholics for Kerry from his job at the USCCB, and organizing a fundraising effort for Senators who opposed the Freedom of Choice Act. Feuerherd’s posting also referred to a case in which Hudson was alleged to have had an improper relationship with a female student and described Hudson as a “thrice-married former Baptist minister.”

“Out of a sense of both justice and charity, I cannot sit back and let this kind of scurrilous attack go without a response,” Fournier wrote. “This is not the first time I have decided to enter into this nasty verbal war that Mr. Feuerherd has unleashed against my friend,” he pointed out.

Deacon Fournier proceeded to clarify the Church’s teachings on sacramental absolution, annulments, and grace—areas in which the NCR editor found fault with Hudson. The Catholic Online editor also quoted and explained the Catechism of the Catholic Church’s definition on calumny.

“Detraction and calumny destroy the reputation and honor of one's neighbor. Honor is the social witness given to human dignity, and everyone enjoys a natural right to the honor of his name and reputation and to respect. Thus, detraction and calumny offend against the virtues of justice and charity,” Deacon Fournier quoted from the Catechism.

In his response, the deacon also noted that there is nothing wrong with disagreeing with a person. However, there are proper ways to disagree. In his view, Feuerherd’s article crossed into foul territory.

“Joe Feuerherd’s scurrilous article did not respond to the issues raised by the claims of the Reform CCHD NOW Coalition concerning John Carr,” the deacon asserted. “Instead, he used this newest controversy as another opportunity to try to personally destroy Dr. Deal Hudson’s reputation, hurt his family, demoralize his staff, and undermine his work.”

Feuerherd “personally attacked Dr. Deal Hudson in a manner which appears to have been intended to harm him, his reputation and his future,” wrote Deacon Fournier. “By writing and publishing this article, Joe Feuerherd, a Catholic himself, also ended up questioning some of the basic premises of our shared Catholic faith.”

Ultimately, in spite of their common faith and different opinions, “Joe Feuerherd is attempting to destroy the reputation of a fellow Catholic Christian, Dr. Deal Hudson,” emphasized the editor of Catholic Online. “He is intentionally trying to hurt a friend of mine, and hurt his family. That is why I must oppose his efforts. His recent article is not journalism, it may even be sin.”

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