The Man Behind the GOP's Catholic Strategy

A Catholic inside-baseball story turns huge. Why? Because it involves the presidential election.

Continued from page 2

Donohue agreed, releasing a

statement

on Friday full of sarcasm and pique: "The Catholic League has a new requirement for all future employees: all candidates must show proof of being immaculately conceived, that is, they must demonstrate that they were conceived without sin..In light of the revelation that the National Catholic Reporter decided to expose a sexual harassment charge against Deal Hudson-one that was made almost a decade ago by a drunken female he met in a bar-we at the Catholic League are not prepared to take any chances."

The personal tone of the response stems mostly from the high stakes involved in the presidential election. But also stems from a feud between the two publications. Crisis is the magazine of politically conservative Catholics. National Catholic Reporter is read by liberals. The two publications are both politically wired and well-known to Catholic (and non-Catholic) movers and shakers.

NCR's explosive story

had its genesis

in an action taken by Hudson last spring: After learning that a low level employee at the U.S. bishops' Secretariat for African-American Catholics hosted a "Catholics for Kerry" Internet forum, Hudson wrote in his widely distributed email newsletter that the employee, Ono Ekeh, shouldn't work for the bishops' conference because Kerry is pro-choice. Ekeh was soon forced to resign.

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"If you're going to play in the sandbox," Hudson told NCR last spring, "then you have to take the consequences of your public utterances and your public actions."

Reporter Joe Feuerherd said he decided to write a profile of Hudson partly as a result of Ekeh's firing, reasoning that Hudson had "successfully placed himself at the center of things both Catholic and political in the nation's capitol."

While Feuerherd researched his story during the spring, Hudson friend Bill Donohue of the Catholic League learned that the Kerry campaign had hired Mara Vanderslice as its director of religious outreach-and

complained that

, among other actions, she had spoke at rallies held by ACT-UP, the AIDS activism group that disrupted Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral in 1989 by spitting the Eucharist on the floor. As a result, the Kerry campaign deep-sixed Vanderslice, who hasn't been heard from since June. Last month, after the Democratic National Committee hired the Rev. Brenda Bartella Peterson as its senior religion adviser, Donohue surfaced again,

pointing out
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Deborah Caldwell
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