With 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.