Tag Archives: Deal W. Hudson

21st century warriors

A quarter-century old, Legatus is poised to substantially impact the culture . . .

Men and women who join Legatus to grow in their Catholic faith may not think they are enlisting in an army, but those at the forefront of today’s culture wars see them that way.

The two most recent recipients of Legatus’ Defender of the Faith Award — Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Catholic League president Bill Donohue — have both described Legates as an army on the front lines, adding that they couldn’t function without such a force behind them.

Upon receiving his award in late 2010, Cardinal Dolan told Legatus members that he and his brother priests rely on prominent lay leaders who are unafraid to give public witness to their faith. “It’s your prayers and support that keep us strong,” he said. “If I’m able to defend the faith, it’s because there’s a great army like you with me.”

Cultural impact

Archbishop Timothy Dolan

Indeed, when Thomas S. Monaghan got the idea to start Legatus within hours of meeting Blessed John Paul II in 1987, he knew he was about to harness a force for great good. By gathering what he calls the most proven leaders in the Church — Catholic CEOs — and helping them to be better Catholics, he believed he could multiply their influence.

“The impact these people have on other people and their ability to get things done and get things organized would have a tremendous benefit to the Church — and that’s the way it’s worked.”

As Legatus grew, the late Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, who served as Legatus’ ecclesiastical advisor for more than 20 years, called the group the most effective association in the Church. “There’s just no organization out there like this,” Monaghan said. “They’re action-oriented. They’re doers, not just talkers. I’ve often said there might be classes of people more articulate or intelligent — like lawyers or professors — but as far as getting things done, they’re in a class by themselves.”

Although in founding Legatus, Monaghan wasn’t directly envisioning it as a player in the culture wars, he said the organization may well be the most effective way to deal with the battles Catholics are facing in the 21st century.

By building business leaders into better Catholics, he said, they make a difference because as faith becomes a bigger part of their lives they automatically see what needs to be done. “These are people who see a need and they fill it, and there are lots of needs in the Church.”

New movement

Those who have followed Legatus’ progress over the last quarter century agree the organization has matured to the point where it is having an impact on the culture.

“Legatus is no longer a club — it’s a movement,” said the Catholic League’s Donohue. “I have seen Legatus grow from a small group of CEO Catholics dedicated to bringing Catholic values to the workplace to a large group of distinguished Catholics committed to engaging the culture. That’s quite a transformation.”

Bill Donohue

Donohue added that in speaking to many Legatus chapters, he has been impressed by the growing commitment on the part of members to take sides in the culture wars. “Catholics have been called by the Holy Father to participate in the public square and Legatus has certainly made good on this request.”

When he was at the Legatus Summit in February, Donohue said, many members asked him how they could become more active in the Catholic League. “They want their voices to be heard on national issues even beyond what Legatus is doing.”

Deal Hudson, chairman of Catholic Advocate in Washington, D.C., said he believes Legatus reached a point of critical mass about seven years ago, readying the organization for the current situation in the United States, which includes such challenges as a federally imposed contraception mandate for all health insurance plans. Most believe it to be unconstitutional.

In his 2008 book Onward Christian Soldiers, Hudson told how Monaghan’s desire to create a national network of orthodox Catholic businesspeople and their spouses brought together Catholics of influence in places like New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Phoenix in a significant way.

“The relationships that were created both within chapters and then between individuals in different parts of the country and at national meetings really helped to contribute to the strength of the Church in our country and has really encouraged a lot of the bishops in ways that were not there prior to the founding of Legatus.”

Not only do bishops appreciate hearing the concerns Legatus members raise, Hudson added, but they know they can rely on the body of knowledge and skills Legates offer. “Business covers a broad spectrum from management to law to education to accounting and fundraising. Really, when the bishops want expertise, they know where to look.”

Monaghan agreed, adding that many bishops and cardinals have said they turn to Legatus members when they need help. “I’m not just talking financial, I’m talking organizational,” Monaghan explained. “It goes on quietly and there’s a lot of it going on.”

Engaging the culture

John Hunt, Legatus’ executive director, said part of Monaghan’s original vision for Legatus was that, as people of influence, members would live out the Second Vatican Council’s call for laypeople to be the Church in the world.

As the organization marks its 25th anniversary this month, Hunt said, it’s clear that Legates are continually being honed for this calling through studying the faith and interacting with other Catholic executives and their spouses who take their faith seriously. “They’re well grounded and they are armed with the tools to go forth.”

Hunt, who joined Legatus 19 years ago and was the charter president of the Chicago Chapter, added, “From the beginning I have been very convicted of Legatus’ value and its ability to be of service to the Church both at the parish and diocesan levels, but also on a broader scale.”

But how this service takes shape depends on each member.

Because Legatus’ mission is to help members study, live and learn the faith, Hunt said, it doesn’t lobby politicians or endorse candidates. Rather, it urges members to support their local bishops and communicate with elected representatives in their own way.

For example, after the recent contraception mandate was announced by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Legatus sent e-mails to members encouraging them to become aware and involved, providing them with contact information for their bishops and legislators, details about pending legislation, and information about litigation by Catholic institutions and business people.

“It’s not Legatus stipulating what to do, but encouraging them to become engaged,” Hunt said.

Catholic Advocate’s Hudson said he thinks the most effective action Legatus members can take in this particular case is to encourage and support their bishops to be as strong as possible, even to the point of civil disobedience, if necessary, in opposing the mandate.

George Weigel

George Weigel, senior fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, added: “The best thing individual Legatus members can do is to convince their friends, neighbors, fellow parishioners, and fellow business people of the immensity of the challenge before us — which is to defend all of civil society, including the Church. As an organization, Legatus can continue to provide its members with the kind of adult formation that makes their evangelical work in the marketplace, family and neighborhood possible and effective.”

Given that this is a time of great urgency, Hunt said, it may be time for Legatus members and all people of good will to step forward and potentially be “martyred.”

“Certainly, it can be in the form of the world seeking to attack an individual and a business he or she is responsible for because of the faith they exhibit,” Hunt explained. “The fact of the matter is we are probably in about the second inning of a nine-inning ballgame. Pressure is coming from people who want permission to do whatever crosses their minds, and the Catholic Church is standing in the doorway proposing a better way. That’s something we’re going to be under attack for. We should allow ourselves to be a buffer in defense of our faith.”

Judy Roberts is Legatus magazine’s staff writer.

Health care: a right or privilege?

A ‘right’ to health care completely skirts the issue of individual responsibility . . .

Deal W. Hudson

Deal W. Hudson

Our bishops want health care reform. They are advocating reform resulting in universal health coverage that respects “human life and dignity” and includes “freedom of conscience,” while restraining costs and applying “costs equitably among payers.”

The bills now before Congress give the federal government the commanding role in providing universal coverage; however, they also leave the door open to funding abortion and end-of-life care, which the bishops have loudly rejected.

The bishops do not consider a government-run program the only option for providing universal health coverage. “There may be different ways to accomplish this, but the bishops’ conference believes health care reform should be truly universal and genuinely affordable,” the bishops explain on their website.

“The Church does not teach that government should directly provide health care,” wrote Bishop R. Walter Nickless of Sioux City, Iowa. “The proper role of the government is to regulate the private sector in order to foster healthy competition and to curtail abuses. Therefore, any legislation that undermines the viability of the private sector is suspect. Private, religious hospitals and nursing homes, in particular, should be protected because these are the ones most vigorously offering actual health care to the poorest of the poor.”

Many Catholics are moved by the argument that health care is a “moral issue.” That claim, however, has to be rightly understood. Health care is not a moral issue per se. No one is obliged to pay for the sum total of all medical care either needed or desired by his “neighbor.” This is not the intent of Catholic social teaching regarding the “right” to health care.

As Bishop Robert W. Finn and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann wrote recently: “The right of every individual to access health care does not necessarily suppose an obligation on the part of the government to provide it. Yet in our American culture, Catholic teaching about the ‘right’ to healthcare is sometimes confused with the structures of ‘entitlement.’ The teaching of the Universal Church has never been to suggest a government socialization of medical services.”

The problem with talking about “rights” to things like health care is that it completely skirts the issue of individual responsibility. Why am I responsible for paying for another person’s medical care when that person has squandered their resources, abused their physical well being, or simply chosen not to make a contribution to work-based health care coverage? The latter is why well over 10 million Americans are uninsured.

There’s also the issue of making distinctions within the category of health care itself. No Catholic wants to pay for another person’s abortion, contraception, in-vitro fertilization, euthanasia or embryonic stem-cell treatment. To give the federal government control over medical care in this country will eventually result in all of these services, including abortion, being paid for by Catholics. Even if abortion funding is stripped from the current legislation, it will undoubtedly be added later on. All it takes is one vote of the House and the Senate and one signature in the Oval Office.

Clearly, any sort of national or state health care program is not going to delve into issues of a person’s use of their financial resources which could have been spent on health coverage, or their employment history which could have provided health coverage, or even the treatment of their own well-being. That’s why a citizen’s moral obligation should be limited to essential services. This “safety net” approach to health care means that those without insurance, and in real need of medical care to treat serious health issues, should receive assistance. In point of fact, our nation’s hospital emergency rooms already provide this assistance. It is federal law that no hospital emergency room can fail to find treatment for someone presenting him or herself for medical care. The number of children being born in U.S. hospitals to illegal immigrants attests to this.

There are many moral issues, but none of us is morally — in a financial way — responsible for assisting people in obtaining the goods associated with that moral issue. After all, the goods associated with our moral choices most often cannot be possessed without our serious commitment to them. The best example is with regard to education. No one is educated by virtue of sitting in a classroom or, as St. Thomas Aquinas put it: “The student is the primary cause of his education.” The same dictum should be kept in mind with health care.

The Catholic Medical Association (CMA) understands that individuals must be held responsible for their own health. CMA supports an approach to health-care reform “achieved by legislation that empowers people to own their health insurance policies (as contrasted with government- or employer-controlled health care insurance) and using targeted measures to help people who cannot afford the entire cost of their insurance premium.”

CMA’s recommendation points the way to an alternative solution — one based on the principle of subsidiarity — to reach the goals advocated by the bishops. Universal coverage can be achieved without handing health care entirely over to the federal government. This alternative vision of reaching the bishops’ goals for health-care reform should be put before the Congress as soon as possible.

Deal Hudson is the president of the Morley Institute & the former publisher of CRISIS Magazine. The director of InsideCatholic.com, Hudson has published articles in The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, National Review and others.