For the past 15 years, I have guided the work of this apostolate, both as Crisis Magazine and as InsideCatholic.com. Now I must step away.
I will begin spending the bulk of my time getting Catholic Advocate ready for the 2012 election. That race promises to be one of the most important in the history of our nation, and I need to focus all my energies on impacting the outcome. While this was a hard decision for me to make, it’s an important one.
I’m passing on the leadership of InsideCatholic to editor Brian Saint-Paul and Laurance Alvarado, our new board chairman. (You probably already know Laurance from his columns and blog posts.) The two have exciting plans to take IC to the next level, just as I did with Crisis when I took it over from Michael Novak and Ralph McInerny 15 years ago. Brian and Laurance really grasp — the way few people do — how publishing is being transformed by Internet technology and how virtual publishing can be placed in the service of the Church.
They also have an exciting vision for both expanding and deepening the editorial coverage of InsideCatholic, but I’ll let them tell you about that.
While I’ll be leaving the staff, you’ll continue to see my weekly columns and blog posts here, so I won’t be disappearing. These people have been like family to me, and I can’t imagine being able to say “goodbye” completely. (I promise not to be a meddler, though, even when the temptation presents itself!)
I hope you will pray both for the future and growth of InsideCatholic, and also for me in my new work as president of Catholic Advocate. It’s our goal to be an orthodox voice and defender of Catholic teaching in elections to come. Armed with the truth of the Faith, Catholic voters can be a force to be reckoned with by candidates in both parties, and Catholic Advocate is going to work to make that a reality.
Through it all, I look forward to continuing with my regular columns and blog posts at InsideCatholic. But it’s time for me to pass the heavy lifting behind the scenes on to younger men.
The Next Step
It was the spring of 1996 — I believe I was at a fatherhood conference with my dad in San Antonio — when I received my first issue of Crisis Magazine. It was like handling manna from heaven. I had been looking — praying — for something that could help deepen and form my faith. Crisis was the answer to that prayer, I’m certain of it.
But merely reading the magazine wasn’t enough. When I noticed that the headquarters of Crisis was a mere block and half from my office in Washington, D.C., I decided to stop by. At lunch one day, I walked over, knocked on the door, and introduced myself.
I’ll never forget my first glimpse of Deal: He was sitting at his desk, talking to some senator on the phone, with the venerable Ralph Reed standing behind him. Deal had his ear up to the phone receiver and was studying a cigar someone had given him when I walked in. He looked up at me and mouthed a “hi.”
I was smitten with the whole operation. There I was: a young, fresh-from-active-duty military professional trying to find my way into civilian life, and Crisis became my partner in the journey. In God’s timing, I met Brian Saint-Paul, the talented editor and now president of the organization, and we became fast friends.
When Deal approached me this past fall to join the InsideCatholic board, I was humbled and honored to accept. My respect for what he has done here is immense, and I’m grateful to be part of the team that started as Crisis Magazine, and will now continue to expand its mission and influence in ways we couldn’t have imagined in 1996.
Looking Back, Looking Forward
I’m going to miss working with Deal Hudson. He brought me to Crisis Magazine in October 2001, promoting me to editor shortly thereafter. We’ve worked together ever since, and in that time I’ve enjoyed both his wise guidance and friendship. There’s a reason why we’ve had so little staff turnover the past ten years: Deal assembled a fantastic team whose members genuinely enjoy working with him and one another. While InsideCatholic readers will continue to see Deal’s columns and blog posts appearing as usual, much will be different behind the scenes, and that will require some getting used to.
As Deal mentioned, InsideCatholic has a new board chairman and organizational leader: longtime friend, columnist, and blogger Laurance Alvarado. Laurance’s resume is almost too long to summarize — it will suffice to say that he’s a combat veteran of the first Gulf War, a successful international businessman, a proven mover and shaker, and a devout Catholic. He chaired our recent fundraising gala, and it was one of the most successful in our history. We’re truly blessed to have Laurance take the reins.
Of course, with change comes opportunity, and so we’re taking advantage of this transition to make a few significant alterations. When we closed the print version of Crisis Magazine and moved online, we became a kind of open forum for Catholics — a place where the faithful can discuss and debate the nonessentials. While we’ll still maintain that openness in the comments section of our site, the water cooler model offers little in the way of editorial mission or direction. If the only criterion for publication is that an article be intelligent and compatible with Catholicism, the result will be a mishmash. That’s not what we’re looking for.
Given that, IC will be adopting a “new” mission statement, though it’s really more of a return to the founding vision of Crisis Magazine. It will form a charter around which to build editorial themes, as well as commission articles and series. Of course, not all our writers will agree with every item, nor will all our material fit neatly into these categories. We had diversity even among the writers and columnists at Crisis, so this is simply a road map to help us focus our editorial efforts.
Here it is:
InsideCatholic.com is an online media platform that uses technology to bring the genius of Catholicism on matters of faith, business, politics, culture, and family life to the public square.
Our mission is threefold:
1. To equip Catholics with the life- and culture-renewing wisdom of our ancient faith.
2. To engage and evangelize non-Catholics of goodwill.
3. To defend the Magisterium of the Catholic Church.
We believe that the Catholic Church was founded by Jesus Christ not only to serve as the ark of salvation, but also to act as the channel of God’s transformative grace in the world.
We believe that, as beings created in the image of God, we are part of a vast and growing human family, spread across history. We remain in solidarity with our brothers and sisters through our common, eternal faith.
We believe that all human rights flow out of the first — the right of every human being to his or her own life — and that it is the moral obligation of all people, nations, and economies to protect life.
We believe that the principles of Catholic Social Teaching — the universal destination of goods, solidarity, subsidiarity, and the common good — are best achieved through democratic capitalism.
We believe that the principles of Catholic Social Teaching are morally right, positively beneficial, and encourage the pursuit of business and economic success.
We believe it’s the role of the family and intermediate institutions — churches, charities, local communities, and social organizations — and not the state, to create culture and teach morality.
We believe that what is good in our culture, including popular culture, should be both encouraged and enjoyed, whether its origin is secular or religious.
You may have noticed the new inclusion of business and economics as major InsideCatholic subjects. Over the next few months, we’ll be greatly increasing our coverage of those areas and will be bringing in a slate of new writers in the genre — you will no doubt recognize some of the names. I’ll have more to say about that in the next two weeks.
In addition to our increased coverage, InsideCatholic will also be expanding technologically. Over the next several months, we’ll be developing dedicated apps for the major mobile devices, with a free app for the iPad already in design. According to online readership trends, at some time over the next 12-24 months, there will come a tipping point where the majority of Internet readers will be viewing online material on their mobile devices and not on computer monitors. We’ll be prepared for that.
As the saying goes, a tree that isn’t growing is dying. The same is true of an apostolate — especially one that has existed since 1982. It has always been our approach at both Crisis Magazine and InsideCatholic to “go big or go home,” and we’re doing that here.
We hope you’ll continue with us for the ride.