Bishop Conley: Thomas More Teaches Us How to Fight For Religious Freedom

conleyWith religious freedom under increasing threat by the federal government, Catholics in America today “face serious crises of conscience,” said Bishop James Conley of Lincoln in a recent column for his diocesan newspaper.

“Our federal government increasingly serves a secular agenda, and is increasingly intolerant of human life, the human family, and human dignity.  The federal HHS mandate represents the disregard with which the government treats religious people.”

The threat to religious freedom in this country is very real and very serious, and Bishop Conley reminds us that we can find an example of creativity and bravery under these circumstances in one of the Church’s holy martyrs – St. Thomas More.

St. Thomas More, says Bishop Conley, is compelling because he tried his hardest to avoid martyrdom – not out of cowardice, but out of a desire to serve both God and King Henry VIII as well as he could for as long as he could.  More used his God-given intelligence, prudence, and creativity in expending every last effort not to die, but to live – for his family, for his faith, and yes, for king and country.

Bishop Conley reminds us that we should be as eager as St. Thomas More to seek ways to make our country better.  Not by seeking the drama of a martyr’s death, but by using our own gifts and talents, finding ways to defend, preserve, and pass on the blessings of freedom that the founders of our country secured for us.

“Religious liberty is important—for religious believers, and for the success of our nation. Like St. Thomas More, Catholics have a great deal to offer to this country.  From the time of the American Revolution, Catholics have served America in arms, and in leadership.  And the Christian understanding of natural law, of virtue, of justice and of freedom is at the basis of the American form of government.  Without the voice of Christians in public life, democratic self-government too easily becomes a tool for tyranny, for oppression, and for the triumph of hedonistic self-interest.”

Bishop Conley concludes by inviting the faithful to join in prayer during the upcoming Fortnight for Freedom, which begins on June 21, and in particular to both pray and fast on Friday, June 27.

Read all of Bishop Conley’s column here.

Saint Thomas More, Pray for Us.



Categories:Culture Politics Religious Liberty

  • Jake

    This is a joke right? This man, this “saint” was responsible for the torture and murder of thousands of protestant dissenters! He was a monster!

  • breidenc

    Recognizing the power and agenda of the Federal Government, the American Church should seriously reconsider Subsidiarity, most especially as the principle was written into the US Constitution. Having recognized that the States and local communities are the preferential option in both, the Church should support initiatives that return both money and power to those loci of authority. Doing so ONLY on natural marriage is short-sighted.

  • Phil Stone

    Given that many churches, today including the Presbyterians, are blessing these marriages, it seems that for some churches to be bound by the precepts of other churches just because they have/had political support is just the thing the 1st Amendment establishment clause was intended to prevent.
    The bishop is clearly wrong about one thing; the whole point of the Constitution was to address a secular agenda; that is why it refers to the welfare of the country and the people, but blocks both the establishment of religious laws, and specifically outlaws any religious test for office. And rather than Catholic martyrs, it will be American women, and eventually American men, who will die if religious freedom is understood to apply only to the bishops, (and corporations) and not to any of the employees. Sometimes it seems they don’t mean to support religious freedom at all, but rather (ecclesiastical )authority.

  • Neil Coup

    St Thomas More died for the true meaning of Marriage. He believed that God alone can define the truth and reality of Marriage, and that in the Christian scheme,it is a Sacrament of the Unity existing between God and the His Church. Queen Catherine of Aragon was , of course, also instrumental in maintaining, upholding and promoting the true meaning of Marriage. Why has she not been canonised also for her profound witness to the truth of marriage?

    • MarLee

      Amen!! He stood for indissolubility of marriage just as much as he stood for the Church, and died for those stands. Marriage reflects the love of Jesus Christ for His Church.

  • the rain

    All true,

  • Sean Argir

    Though the article doesn’t directly mention about same-sex marriages, I would say that allowing homosexuals the freedom to marry others of the same-sex does not do anything to trounce upon religious freedom.

    • Chris

      Saint Thomas More was beheaded for defending marriage, as was John the Baptist. The deconstruction of marriage by gay activists is a continuation of the assault on marriage that these martyrs died fighting.

      • Sean Argir

        Assault on heterosexual marriage? No it is not. How is it destructive?

        Same-sex marriage does nothing to destroy an opposite-sex marriage. People can still marry someone of the opposite sex whether same-sex marriage is allowed or not allowed. Plus if it is allowed, the world will not end, children will still be children, and life will go on as normal!

        • vick colbert

          Normal and natural have similar connotations. Same sex “marriage” does not comport to either. It does not meet a standard it is not common, and it does not meet a natural purpose. The attempt to re-define a constant principle of natural law is an exercise in self absorption.

        • Gail Dontigney

          #1 Same sex marriage is not legal in all 50 states.

          As far as the religious view, from the beginning of time,
          Adam and Eve, marriage was between a man and a woman. All the negative posts won’t change the view the Catholic Church has on marriage, as well as abortion. If someone doesn’t agree, that is fine. Everyone has an opinion, but that doesn’t mean they are written in gold.

        • J. Miller

          Redefining something as significantly as legalizing same sex “unions” is most definately an assault on marraige. Once you make the definition this changeable it soon becomes meaningless. Even some homosexual activists admit that their long term goal is to do away with marraige altogether in society. Already polygamists and others are starting to push to redefine marriage further. Once “marraige” only depends on the concent of the people involved then there is no justification to ban polygamy and incest as long as all parties are willing.

        • Enid

          It is NOT about a perceived threat to heterosexual marriages It is about a threat to the family unit–mother + father + children–which is the basic building block of ALL society and always has been across time and cultures. Even the ancient Greeks who were very open about homosexuality (they gave us the term as well as “lesbian”) refused to allow homosexual “marriages” because it would grossly weaken the bonds of society. Defense of marriage is about the right of the child to mother and father. “Children will still be children”? Not exactly because a homosexual union is by nature sterile so any children a homosexual couple raises has been “placed” there on the whim and wants of adults who cannot have the best interest, rights and needs of the child rightly in forefront or they would not selfishly and purposefully put a child in a less than optimal family situation. Defense of marriage is pro-child, pro-society and NOT anti-gay.

        • Mark

          There are already people suing for the right to marry their pets, their trees, to marry multiple spouses (of both sexes), and even in the case of pedophiles to marry young children.

          When will the gay “marriage” proponents realize that they are not only starting down a steep, slippery slope, but greasing it for everyone else? Actions have consequences.

        • Joe canlin

          There is no such thing as a homosexual marriage, that’s a lie.

        • sahale93

          and there are never unintended consequences for liberal policies, like when pornography, divorce and abortion did not increase dramatically when the Church’s prohibition of contraception was ignored…pull the head out of the sand, please!

        • John Fox

          @Sean are you okay with gay civil unions? Or *must* it only be “gay marriage? Is it okay if some religious institutions, like Catholics, refuse to recognize or perform gay marriages or gay civil unions, even if other religious groups do recognize and permit them?

        • Il Conservatore

          Life will not go on as normal. By re-defining marriage, the very building blocks of society, the family unit, has become permanently altered. Once a redefined marriage exists those participating in it may want children. Once that happens, you are denying an innocent child the natural form of the family unit and are fixing upon him or her the unnatural and disordered form. There are ramifications to such actions and unfortunately we will all witness this because it seems we are unable to stop it using proper methods at present time.

    • Mark

      There is no reason to create special rights for anyone; we Catholics believe in equal rights for all. Homosexuals have the same right to marry as anyone else does; a man can marry a woman and vice versa. Anything else is not “equal” rights, but SPECIAL rights.



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