30 September 2011

Is counting the census more difficult that it seems?

We're often told - quite rightly - that if one plays and jumbles with numbers enough they can be manipulated to say whatever one wants.

This is to be expected from political parties and retailers as they seek to garner more attention and loyalty, but it isn't expected from the United States Census Bureau.

Even so, this is precisely what has been done to the figures from the 2010 census in regards to the number of same-sex households in the nation.  The National Catholic Register has the story, with my emphases:

Original data published by the 2010 Census reported that the number of same-sex households in the U.S. was 901,997, including 349,377 same-sex “married couple households,” and 552,620 same-sex unmarried partner households.

On Tuesday, however, the Census Bureau admitted that those numbers were significantly revised downward after staff discovered inconsistency in file statistics “that artificially inflated the number of same-sex couples.”

The number initially reported was about 40% higher than what the Census Bureau believes to be accurate.

The Census Bureau now estimates that there are 131,729 same-sex “married couple households,” and 514,735 same-sex unmarried partner households in the U.S. for a total of 646,464 same-sex households. The Census Bureau had, therefore, misrepresented the number of same-sex couples by 255,533 or 39.5% [more, with good analysis].

That's no small miscalculation.  It could just be a complex [such a miscalculation could hardly be called simple] and honest mistake, but it seems more likely to have been done for political purposes yet to be uncovered.

Now, one might wonder, given the data collected by the census bureau it shouldn't be terribly difficult to count up the number of same-sex households; why give an estimate and not an actual figure?

Bishop Zurek suspends Father Pavone

His Excellency the Most Reverend Patrick J. Zurek, Bishop of Amarillo, has clarified his order of suspension of Father Frank A. Pavone, a priest of the Diocese of Amarillo and director of Priests for Life.

A little Friday fun

Which is worse?

Given Senator Durbin's unhappy voting record on areas of human life, I am always baffled that so many Illinoisans have repeatedly elected him to public office.

If so many are so heartless as to give no concern for the children yet in their mother's wombs, mayhaps they will be selfish enough as to give concern to their own wallets and now vote Senator Durbin out of office.

A presumption of guilt

Steven Roach, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois recently penned an editorial commenting on Judge John Schmidt's recent ruling in favor of the Department of Children and Family Services of the State of Illinois.

The State Journal-Register would not print the editorial - presumably for reasons of length - but I am happy to publish it for you here, with my emphases:

A Presumption of Guilt
For 40 years, Catholic Charities in Illinois has partnered with DCFS in providing foster care and adoption services for the state’s abused and neglected children. Both parties agree that it has been a highly successful partnership, effectively providing care and permanent loving homes for literally tens of thousands of these vulnerable children. The partnership saved taxpayers millions of dollars, since Catholic Charities does it much cheaper than if the state itself provided the services.  In addition, the partnership also enabled the state to capture tens of millions more in federal reimbursement because of the outstanding success Catholic Charities (and other private agencies) achieved in effectively providing these programs.
The state has publically pronounced that the partnership in Illinois between DCFS and private agencies should serve as a national model to be replicated across the country as the best way to manage the tremendous difficulties of a statewide child welfare system. As one of the largest private agencies in the state, Catholic Charities is proud to have been an integral part of this successful model.
We have worked closely with our friends at DCFS over the years to ensure that the best interest of children was always the primary motivation for the services that were provided. A rare “win-win” situation was created. The children won because they were being provided with the highest quality care when they were placed with Catholic Charities. DCFS won because Catholic Charities helped them meet the vast legal and federal requirements that are placed on the state.  The taxpayers of Illinois won because by privatizing 80% of the casework in the child welfare system, the state annually saves millions.
Catholic Charities won because these programs allowed us to fulfill one of the primary objectives of our religious mission – serving children in desperate need – the modern-day “orphans”.  Catholic Charities was always found to be in complete compliance with all Illinois and federal law according to the state’s own constant monitoring reviews. Year after year, we were praised by DCFS for our accomplishments and thanked for being a “valued partner” in the service of children.  And then something changed
The current controversy between Catholic Charities and the State of Illinois began with the passage of the Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act.  Quite simply, at issue is whether or not religious freedom protection actually exists in this new law (and other laws) and that it applies to Catholic Charities foster care and adoption programs.  Immediately after its passage, the state accused Catholic Charities of being in violation of the law because of our opposition to the placement of children in the homes of unmarried couples who are living together, regardless of sexual orientation. Our position is based on centuries’ old religious teachings about the definition of marriage and the inappropriateness of unmarried cohabitation. In the past, the state never had an issue with our practice regarding unmarried and cohabitating heterosexual couples, but since unmarried and cohabitating homosexual couples were thrust into the equation, the state went on the attack. The fact is that such couples have many other options available to them. Our religious practices do not deny those opportunities to anyone.

And so Catholic Charities stands accused of discrimination by the state for being in violation of the Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act.  From the beginning, we have adamantly maintained that we are in full compliance with this new law given the religious protection language actually written into the law and the legislative intent defined in the Senate debate that clearly protects “institutions of faith” with “various agencies providing social services, retreats, religious camps, homeless shelters, senior service centers, adoption agencies, hospitals” from interference or regulation. However, this religious protection has been completely dismissed by the state and instead we have been treated under a presumption of guilt. 

The state’s sole reason for terminating the foster care/adoption contracts after 40 years is based on this presumption of guilt – “Catholic Charities is in violation of the new law and therefore the contracts will be terminated”.  No other reason has been given to sever this successful partnership because no other reason exists. We continue to maintain that we are in full compliance with the new law and believe if you are accused of something, you have a right to defend yourself against those specific allegations.   

Catholic Charities went to court to get an answer to the specific accusation levied against us.  We felt if we were found by a court to be in compliance with the new law, then obviously there is no reason for the partnership with DCFS to be terminated.  After all for decades, it has proven to be in the best interest of Illinois’ children that the partnership continued.  The recent ruling failed to address the critical question of Catholic Charities’ compliance with the new law - the entire reason for this controversy.

Most of the criticism and opposition to Catholic Charities supports the state’s presumption of guilt. It goes something like this, “If Catholic Charities refuses to comply with the law, they should not be allowed to contract with the state”, or “Taxpayer money/public funds should not be used to fund agencies that are in violation of the law.”  Both statements are based on the biased premise that Catholic Charities is already guilty of the accusations made by the state.

Should Catholic Charities be allowed to defend itself against the allegations that caused the termination of our contracts? We feel any reasonable person would agree we should have the opportunity to “face our accusers,” especially with so much at stake for thousands of our foster children, foster parents and dedicated staff. 

Paprocki: Our concern today is not with the secular world, but with a profane secularism that seeks to exclude God from the world outside the temple or church

At the invitation of His Eminence Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston, His Excellency the Most Reverend Thomas John Paprocki, Bishop of Springfield in Illinois, addressed the bench and bar following last evening's Red Mass celebrated in Houston.

I am happy to present for you the text of His Excellency's address (it is lengthy, but you won't regret reading it), with my emphases:

Threats to Religious Freedom:

From Godless Communism to Profane Secularism

Red Mass Dinner Address to the Bench and Bar

Archdiocese of Houston

September 29, 2011

† Most Rev. Thomas John Paprocki

Bishop of Springfield in Illinois

Your Eminence, Cardinal DiNardo; Your Excellencies, Archbishop Fiorenza and Bishop Rizzotto; Reverend Fathers and Deacons, consecrated Religious, honorable judges, civic officials, fellow attorneys, and my dear brothers and sisters in Christ:

It is good to be with you for your Red Mass celebration and dinner, and I am grateful to Cardinal DiNardo for his gracious invitation to speak to you tonight. I have been a member of the Illinois bar now for thirty years and a canon lawyer for the past twenty years, so I share in your profession.

When I was doing my graduate studies in canon law at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, I had the opportunity to visit the Soviet Union with a group from the North American College in Rome. During our bus tour in Russia, our tour guide in Moscow claimed that the Soviet constitution provided for freedom of religion and as proof of that she boasted that there were fifty Christian churches in Moscow. Coming from the Archdiocese of Chicago where we had 365 parishes serving Catholics that made up 42% of the population, I quickly did the math in my head and concluded that fifty churches in a city the size of Moscow was hardly a testament to a robust Christian community.

I also learned more about the communist understanding of freedom of religion. For the Soviets, the phrase “freedom of religion” more accurately meant “freedom of worship,” that is, people were free to pray in church, but outside of church they were not allowed to teach the faith or engage in faith-based charitable activities.

At the time, I thought how different that was from our understanding of the “free exercise of religion” protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. I thought of our vast network of Catholic institutions in the United States: our schools, colleges, universities, hospitals, nursing homes, and social service agencies such as Catholic Charities.

Shortly after my visit to Moscow and Leningrad, the Soviet Union officially collapsed and everyone thought the ideologies of Godless Communism had disappeared in the wake of their manifest failure. Now, twenty years later, it appears that these ideologies have not disappeared, but have simply morphed into another form. Nor is the spread of these newly-refurbished ideologies confined to the territories of the former Soviet Union and its satellites. In Western Europe and in North America, you won’t find too many people espousing explicit belief in “Godless Communism,” but you will find many people living by the principles of what aptly may be called “Profane Secularism.”

Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago, discussed the concept of “profane secularism” in his recent book, God in Action: How Faith in God Can Address the Challenges of the World. Cardinal George offers “a clarification about secularity and secularism: as a total philosophy of public life, secularism captures the world for the profane, the realm from which God is banished. . . . By contrast, an understanding of secularity as the ground between the sacred and the profane displays it as the world of the contingent, with its own penultimate ends and purposes. This understanding does not divorce the world from God, but it recognizes, in Christ’s words, that God’s kingdom is not of this world.” Cardinal George then quotes “the formula of Pope Gelasius I (492-496), reminding Emperor Anastasius as he attempted to control the Church: ‘There are two powers by which this world is principally governed,’ not one. While the profane excludes God, the sacred and the secular are both authorized by God, who therefore governs a human race defined by pluralism and institutional diversity.”[i]

These distinctions are important, because the secular world per se should not be seen as the enemy of the sacred. Jesus recognized these two legitimate spheres when He said, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s” (Mark 12:17). He didn’t say that we should reject or be at war with the things of this world, or that the things of this world were inherently evil and should be avoided. In fact, the Bible tells us that God viewed His creation as “very good” (Genesis 1:1-31). So it is not a question of the sacred and the secular, properly understood, being in opposition to each other. The problem is an ideology of secularism laced with profanity, not in the sense of “profanity” as commonly understood to refer to foul language, but “profanity” as related to the “profane,” a word which comes from the Latin, pro + fano, literally, “out in front of the temple.” The “profane” is that which is excluded or excludes itself from God, from all that is holy. Thus, our concern today is not with the secular world, but with a profane secularism that seeks to exclude God from the world outside the temple or church.

Cardinal George spelled out the similarities between communism and contemporary secularism explicitly in a recent column in his diocesan newspaper, where he wrote, “The purpose of communism and of contemporary secularism is the same: to create a society where God cannot appear in public, to erase any evidence of religious belief from public life and to prevent the church from acting in history, confining the Church’s mission to private worship, carrier of a belief system that can have no influence on society except on secularist terms. In this sense, secularists in this country and elsewhere are successors of the communists of the last century.”[ii]

The communist world of the last century is the milieu in which Karol Wojtyła grew up, who of course would become our great Holy Father, Blessed Pope John Paul II. His biographer, George Weigel, describes that world, which he calls “the communist culture of the lie,” in these words: “Permissive abortion laws, communist youth camps that encouraged sexual experimentation, work schedules that separated husbands and wives, parents and children—all of these were tools in the communist campaigns against traditional Polish culture and against the Church and its moral teaching.”[iii]

The names, the programs and the underlying philosophies of godless communism and profane secularism may be different (for example, substitute “secular college campuses” for “communist youth camps that encourage sexual experimentation”), but many of the consequences are the same, especially with regard to freedom of religion. There are many examples of this from around the world,[iv] but I would like to focus on just a few of the more egregious threats to religious freedom right here in the United States.[v]

The imposition on religious freedom comes in the guise of nondiscrimination laws and codes. The result is that faith organizations are told whom they must employ and what they must assent to, or face being shoved off the public square. It is an ominous sign for our national security when the United States Military starts playing politically correct games with religious freedom. Volunteers from Gideons International have been informed that they can no longer give Bibles at the local military induction centers to the men and women entering the armed services. The Gideons have been giving out Bibles to American military personnel for more than half a century without incident. Apparently the government now thinks that soldiers armed with Bibles would pose a risk to our national security.[vi]

Writing in The Wall Street Journal, William McGurn rightly identifies what worries religious leaders across the spectrum of faiths and denominations: “At the core of their concern is just this: the politically correct rewriting of the First Amendment. Post-1791, what made America's religious freedom truly radical was not simply that it allowed people to worship (or not to worship) as they saw fit. The radical part was the guarantee it gave to corporate freedoms: to hold property together, to own newspapers, to run schools, to open hospitals and clinics, etc.”[vii]

My own recent experience as Bishop of Springfield in Illinois is illustrative. Last December the lame-duck session of the Illinois General Assembly passed a bill that authorized so-called “civil unions.” Many of those who voted for this legislation were legislators who lost their elections just the month before and figured they had nothing to lose in voting for this bill since they had already been thrown out of office. Meanwhile the Governor of Illinois, Patrick Quinn, signed the bill into law, saying as he did so that his “support for civil unions was animated by his religious faith.” Since newspaper accounts of his statement also identified him as a Catholic, I felt as the authentic leader of the Catholic faith in our state capital that I had to address the Governor’s remarks, so I issued a statement noting that while the Governor professes that his religious faith animates his support for civil unions, he didn’t say what religion that was, but it certainly wasn’t the Catholic religion![viii]

Now I should point out that the full title of the law commonly referred to in the media as the “Civil Union Act” was actually the “Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act,” a rather Orwellian moniker. Apparently the proponents of civil unions couldn’t garner enough votes to pass the bill unless they also provided some assurances that religious freedom would be protected. Despite being the first part of the title of the Act, there are only two sentences in the “Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act” that deal with religious freedom. The first says, “Nothing in this Act shall interfere with or regulate the religious practice of any religious body.” The second sentence reads, “Any religious body, Indian Nation or Tribe or Native Group is free to choose whether or not to solemnize or officiate a civil union.”

There was some debate on the floor of the state senate whether those were two independent assertions or whether the first sentence simply introduced the second, which provided that no one would be compelled to officiate at a civil union ceremony. On December 1, 2010, the sponsor of the bill which was adopted later that day answered affirmatively to specific, explicit questions put to him on the floor of the Illinois Senate, to the effect that the two sentences in Section 15, quoted above, are to be read separately so as to refer to “religious practice[s]” apart and distinct from the decision “whether or not to solemnize or officiate a civil union.” He asserted that it was not the intent of the co-sponsors of the bill to “impede the rights that religious organizations have to carry out their . . . religious activities.”[ix]

Nevertheless, this past May, the Deputy Director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, wrote to a religious social services agency, Evangelical Child & Family Services of Wheaton, Illinois, to the effect that DCFS “will be revising policies and procedures to include recognition of Civil Unions [which] may impact potential service delivery issues for faith-based agencies.”  The Deputy Director also wrote that the “Director will be sending out a letter to all agencies sharing the Department’s intention to be inclusive of Civil Union relationships relative to adoption and foster children.”  Furthermore, DCFS’ Deputy Director described the impact of its decision “to be inclusive of Civil Union relationships” as one that could well end its contractual relationship with Evangelical Child & Family Services, saying: “The decision to proceed with providing foster care will be yours to make, not DCFS’,” and that, “If the policy changes conflict with your agencies [sic] religious beliefs, you and your Board can opt out of your foster care contracts.”

Anticipating similar punitive action against Catholic foster care programs, Catholic Charities of the Dioceses of Springfield, Joliet and Peoria[x] went to court seeking a declaration that their longstanding position of not placing children with unmarried cohabiting couples – regardless of sexual orientation – is protected by the Illinois Human Rights Act, the Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act, and the Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Catholic Charities also sought a court injunction against further action by Illinois government officials to the contrary.

Last month Circuit Judge John Schmidt ruled that Catholic Charities does not have a legal right to extension of its state contracts to oversee foster and adoptive children. Certainly nobody has a right to a state contract, but that is only part of the argument. The point is that, although nobody has a right to contract with the state, on the other hand, the state is not free to refuse to contract for basically illegal reasons. Just as an employer can’t refuse a job to someone because of race, the state can’t refuse to issue a contract to an organization because of the group’s religious beliefs. Our argument is that the state has chosen an illegal reason not to contract with us. It’s our religious practice not to place children with unmarried, cohabitating couples. We believe that people who are cohabitating without marriage are living in a sinful condition. Unfortunately, just this past Monday Judge Schmidt denied our motion to reconsider whether the state can refuse to contract on the basis of the exercise of religion. He also refused to grant a stay of his ruling pending further legal action. Our attorneys are now seeking an emergency stay from the Illinois Appellate Court, since the foster care services of our Catholic Charities will be irreparably harmed if the State begins transferring children to other agencies.

The decision by the Department of Children and Family Services to sever its foster care and adoption services contracts with Catholic Charities is just one example of the state seeking to impose its version of profane secularism on American society. Another example was the order issued in 2005 by our impeached ex-Governor and now convicted felon Rod Blagojevich requiring pharmacies and pharmacists to dispense emergency contraception and abortion pills.  Fortunately, the order was struck down by a Sangamon County judge this past April, after years of litigation. The concern down the line is about government requirements that would mandate contraception in insurance plans and ultimately even require Catholic hospitals to perform abortions. Such concerns are not paranoid delusions.

Recently the Secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services proposed a mandate that will force private insurance plans to cover contraception, chemical abortions and sterilizations, with an exemption for “religious employers” so narrow that it would provide no protection at all for individuals or insurers with a moral or religious objection to contraceptives or sterilization, but would instead cover only a very small subset of religious employers. The General Counsel for our Bishops’ Conference has called this mandate “an unprecedented attack on religious liberty.”[xi]

According to the mandate, a church is not a religious employer if it (a) serves those who are not already members of the church, (b) fails to hire based on religion, or (c) does not restrict its charitable and missionary purposes to the inculcation of religious values

Such narrow criteria bear no reasonable relation to any legitimate (let alone compelling) government purpose. Under these criteria, even the ministry of Jesus and the early Christian Church would not qualify as “religious,” because they did not confine their ministry to their co-religionists or engage only in a preaching ministry. Imagine the outcry if our Catholic Charities, Catholic hospitals, and Catholic universities announced that they would only hire Catholics and only serve Catholics. But that is not our approach, which itself is based on a religious principle shown in the parable of the Good Samaritan, in which Jesus teaches concern and assistance for those in need, regardless of faith differences.

While the exemption is deeply problematic,[xii] the fundamental problem is with the mandate itself. Only by rescinding the mandate will all of the serious moral problems that the mandate creates be eliminated.

Your own Archbishop, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, addressed these concerns in a letter dated September 7, 2011 to all members of the United States Congress. Writing in his capacity of Chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal DiNardo wrote, “While I have written previously to encourage your support for the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (H.R. 1179, S. 1467), recent events make this request more urgent. . . . As you may know, the nation’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, actively campaigned for the mandate now issued by HHS, and supports mandated coverage of chemical as well as surgical abortion. Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion groups hope that once there is a national mandate for ‘prevention’ of pregnancy as if it were a disease inimical to women’s well-being, this will build their case for promoting abortion as the ‘cure’. . . . In this letter I wish to focus on the threat posed by such a mandate to rights of conscience and religious freedom, as Congress has protected these rights in the past and needs to do so again. . . . Therefore I urge you to support and co-sponsor the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act, to help preserve respect in federal law for the freedom to follow the dictates of one’s conscience.”[xiii]

If democracy is to survive in this country and not fall to a new form of totalitarian government, we need to recapture the role of religious and moral values advocated by our first President, George Washington. In his farewell address in 1796, President Washington declared, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensible supports. . . . Let it simply be asked, Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion.”[xiv]

          Perhaps the best antidote to profane secularism can be learned from the example of those who withstood and defeated godless communism. One of the staunchest defenders of the Church in communist Poland was the Primate of Poland, Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński. In May 1953, the communist regime ordered the implementation of a law by which it, not the Catholic Church, would appoint and remove pastors, vicars and bishops. The Church would become, de facto, a subsidiary of the state. In a powerful sermon at Warsaw’s St. John’s Cathedral, Cardinal Wyszyński drew the line, saying, “We teach that it is proper to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s. But when Caesar sits himself on the altar, we respond curtly: he may not.”[xv]

Shortly afterwards Cardinal Wyszyński was arrested and began three years of internment. “By the end of the year, eight bishops and 900 priests were in prison for their faith. The numbers would increase to 2,000 over the next two years, while theological faculties were closed, parents threatened, religious education stopped in the schools, and onerous taxes [were] laid on the Church.”[xvi] When unrest took hold of Poland in the form of workers’ demonstrations during a general strike in June 1956 that was crushed by tanks of the Red Army, the new communist leader realized that “only one man could calm the situation – Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński – and so he had him released from his interment, but only after Cardinal Wyszyński demanded and received other concessions from the communist authorities.[xvii]

A young Bishop by the name of Karol Wojtyła would follow in the footsteps of Cardinal Wyszyński in defending religious freedom. Following World War II, the Polish government established a town called Nowa Huta in the industrial outskirts of Kraków. They intended it to be a model communist city without God, comprised of steel workers and other laborers, but in which there was to be no church building. The Polish Catholics of Nowa Huta and the local Auxiliary Bishop thought otherwise. On December 24, 1959, Bishop Wojtyła began celebrating Christmas Midnight Mass in a freezing open field in Nowa Huta during the years in which the communist regime refused a building permit. On October 13, 1967, the communist authorities finally gave permission to build a church, and the very next day, Wojtyła, who by then had become the Cardinal Archbishop of Kraków, “drove to Nowa Huta and turned the symbolic first spade of earth, preparing the ground for the cornerstone, which was donated by [Pope] Paul VI and taken from a fragment of Constantine’s ancient basilica of St. Peter in Rome.”[xviii] The triumph of Cardinal Wojtyła was celebrated with his dedication of the new church in Nowa Huta on May 15, 1977.[xix]

Poland was blessed with some strong bishops during the years of communist persecution, especially Cardinal Wyszyński and Cardinal Wojtyła, but we should note that their eventual success was bolstered by a fervent and determined laity. Without the protests of the laity, Cardinal Wyszyński would not have been released from his confinement and Cardinal Wojtyła would never have dedicated a new church in Nowa Huta. People need to keep that in mind when they demand strong leadership from their bishops. Yes, the successors of the apostles must be willing to lay down their lives for the faith as did the first apostles, but bishops should also be able to count on the dedicated and zealous support of the lay Christian faithful.

In closing, last year when Pope Benedict XVI appointed me to serve as the ninth Bishop of Springfield in Illinois, I chose June 22nd, the Feast of the English martyrs, Saints Thomas More and John Fisher, as the date of my Installation Mass. I never knew exactly why my parents decided to name me Thomas John, but as Pope John Paul II used to say, there are no coincidences, only God’s providence. This day was appropriate because St. John Fisher was a Bishop, while St. Thomas More has long been a special patron saint for me not only because I served as Chancellor, as Thomas More did, but also because Thomas More is the patron saint of lawyers and politicians, whose intercession I rely upon in my pastoral ministry as shepherd of the state capital of Illinois.

          “A Man For All Seasons” is the epic film about the life of St. Thomas More, who faced persecution from his sovereign, King Henry VIII. In the screenplay written by Robert Bolt, there is a very poignant scene towards the end of the story of the trial of Thomas More, who was charged for High Treason for his refusal to sign the Act of Supremacy, making King Henry VIII the head of the Church of England. An unsavory character by the name of Sir Richard Rich has just perjured himself on the witness stand by giving false testimony by which More would surely be convicted. Before Sir Richard leaves the witness stand, More says, “I have one question to ask the witness. That’s a chain of office you are wearing. May I see it?” Rich allows More to examine the medallion, whereupon More says, “The red dragon.” More then asks Cromwell, who is conducting the interrogation, “What’s this?”

          Cromwell answers, “Sir Richard is appointed Attorney-General of Wales.”

          More, we are told, looks into Rich’s face with pain and amusement and asks, “For Wales? Why Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world . . . But, for Wales!”[xx]
Unfortunately we live in a time when many other politicians are quite willing to give their souls for even less than Wales! As we leave this gathering tonight, my prayer for you is that, through the intercession of Saints Thomas More and Bishop John Fisher, more lawyers and politicians will follow their courageous example of faithful adherence to the teachings of the Catholic Church and help to promote and protect religious freedom in our nation and in the world. On the day of our death, may we be able to proclaim as did Sir Thomas More when he faced his executioner, “I die the King’s good servant, but God’s first.”[xxi] May God give us this grace.  Amen.

[i] Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I., God in Action: How Faith in God Can Address the Challenges of the World (New York: Doubleday Religion, 2011), pp. 27-28.

[ii] Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I., “The Church in History, the Church Today, The Catholic New World, August 28, 2011, p. 3.

[iii] George Weigel, The End and the Beginning: Pope John Paul II – The Victory of Freedom, the Last Years, the Legacy (New York: Doubleday, 2010), p. 48.

[iv] British court disqualifies couple from becoming foster parents because of their Christian views on premarital and homosexual intercourse, “On File,” Origins, March 17, 2011, vol. 40, no. 40, p. 664. Swedish Pastor Sentenced to Month in Prison for Preaching Against Homosexuality, LifeSiteNews.com, July 5, 2004, www.lifesitenews.com/news/archive/ldn/2004/jul/04070505. In 1997 the Ontario Human Rights Commission fined the City of London and its mayor, Diane Haskett, $10,000 for refusing to proclaim Gay Pride Day. It also ordered Haskett to make a public statement praising the “valuable contributions of gays and lesbians to her community,” which she refused to do. In 2001 in Toronto, Ontario, printer Scott Brocke was fined $5,000 for refusing to print homosexual-themed stationery for the Canadian Gay and Lesbian Archives. In 2002 in Saskatchewan, the StarPhoenix newspaper of Saskatoon and Hugh Owens were ordered to pay $1,500 to three homosexual activists for publishing an ad in the newspaper in 1997 quoting Bible verses regarding homosexuality. “Court Reverses Ruling,” WorldNetDaily, April 14, 2006. In 2005 a British Columbia Knights of Columbus council was ordered to pay $2,000 to two lesbians, plus their legal costs, for refusing to allow its facility to be used for their “wedding.” In January 2006, Catholic city councilman John DeCicco of Kamloops, British Columbia, was fined $1,000 and required to apologize for saying that homosexuality is “not normal or natural. ” LifeSiteNews, Jan. 19, 2007. In 2005 in Alberta, Most Reverend Frederick Henry, Roman Catholic Bishop of Calgary, was subject to two complaints before the Alberta Human Rights Commission after publishing a pastoral letter defending the traditional definition of marriage earlier that same year. Bishop Henry said, “The social climate right now is that we’re into a new form of censorship and thought control, and the commissions are being used as thought police.” “Canada’s Human Rights Beef with Catholics,” Zenit, Feb. 5, 2008. In February 2007 complaints were brought before the Canadian Human Rights Commission targeting Catholic Insight magazine and Father Alphonse De Valk, a well-known pro-life priest, for quoting from the Bible and church documents to refute “same-sex marriage.” “Canada’s Human Rights Beef with Catholics,” Zenit, Feb. 5, 2008. In 2007 the Christina Heritage Party of Canada and its leader Ron Gray were investigated by the Canadian Human Rights Commission after a homosexual activist complained that he was offended by material on the party’s web site, “Christian Political Party before Human Rights Commission.” LifeSiteNews, Nov. 27, 2007. In Iran, in a challenge to the Mideast’s small but vibrant Christian communities, dozens of Christians were arrested within two weeks of Christmas last year, Farnaz Fassihi and Matt Bradley. “Iran Targets Christians With a Wave of Arrests,” The Wall Street Journal, January 7, 2011. In Pakistan, 42-year-old Shahbaz Bhatti, a Catholic and Pakistan’s federal minister for religious minorities, was murdered this past March 2 while being driven to work because he opposed Pakistan’s blasphemy law, which made it a crime punishable by death for anyone who insults Islam, George Weigel. “Martyrdom in Pakistan: A Brace Man’s Confession of Faith,” Catholic Times, August 28, 2011, p. 5. See also, “Pakistan Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti Shot Dead,” BBC New South Asia, March 2, 2011, www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-12617562. This past summer, the chief rabbi for Great Britain, Lord Sacks, told a House of Commons committee in June, “I share a real concern that the attempt to impose the current prevailing template of equality and discrimination on religious organizations is an erosion of religious liberty.” William McGurn, “Religion and the Cult of Tolerance: Freedom of Religion Isn’t Just About Thought and Speech,” The Wall Street Journal, August 16, 2011, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111903480904576510510748329454.html.

[v] Last month Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear said approval for a local merger that would create a new Catholic hospital system will depend on maintaining a “public mission”—by which he means the performance of procedures, such as sterilization, at odds with church teaching. In San Francisco, opponents of circumcision recently attempted to outlaw it via state ballot. The California State University system has been found within its legal rights to deem a Christian fraternity and sorority unfit for recognition. Meanwhile, the National Labor Relations Board declared that two Catholic colleges are not in fact Catholic. William McGurn, “Religion and the Cult of Tolerance: Freedom of Religion Isn’t Just About Thought and Speech,” The Wall Street Journal, August 16, 2011, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111903480904576510510748329454.html.

[vi] William B. Fry, “Religious Freedom and the Military,” The Wall Street Journal, August 16, 2011, p. A12.

[vii] William McGurn, “Religion and the Cult of Tolerance” (see endnote 10).

[viii] Carla K. Johnson and Christopher Wills, “Illinois Senate Approves Civil Unions for Gay Couples,” Peoria Journal Star, December 1, 2010, www.pjstar.com/news/x556839158/Ill-Senate-approves-civil-unions-for-gay-couples.

[ix] Senator Haine referred to a variety of religious practices on the part of “these institutions of faith of all denominations, Christian and Jewish [which] go to their various agencies providing social services, retreats, religious camps, homeless shelters, senior care centers, adoption agencies, hospitals, a wide gamut of things.  So, that’s covered under the first sentence” of Section 15, he queried, to which Senator Koehler answered:  “Yes.  The – certainly the intent of Representative Harris and I is not to at all, you know, impede the rights that religious organizations have to carry out their – what their duties and – and religious activities are.”136th Legislative Day, 96th Illinois General Assembly, Regular Session, Senate Transcript, p. 81.

[x] Catholic Social Services of Southern Illinois in the Diocese of Belleville later joined as a co-plaintiff in this lawsuit.

[xi] “USCCB Urges Rescission of HHS Contraceptive Mandate, Criticizes ‘Inexplicably Narrow’ Definition of Religious Freedom,” August 31, 2011, http://www.usccb.org/news/2011/11-168.cfm.

[xii]The exemption is narrower than any conscience clause ever enacted in federal law, and narrower than the vast majority of religious exemptions from state contraceptive mandates. By failing to protect insurers, individuals, most employers, or any other stakeholders with a religious objection to such items and procedures, the HHS exemption, like the mandate itself, violates the U.S. Constitution and various federal statutes.” Letter of Mr. Anthony Picarrello, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops General Counsel, and Mr. Michael Moses, Associate General Counsel, to the Department of Health and Human Services, August 31, 2011, http://www.usccb.org/about/general-counsel/rulemaking/upload/comments-to-hhs-on-preventive-services-2011-08.pdf.

[xiv] George Washington, “Farewell Address,” 1796, available from the Avalon Project, Yale Law School, Lillian Goldman Library; quoted in Carl Anderson, Beyond a House Divided: The Moral Consensus Ignored by Washington, Wall Street and the Media (New York: Doubleday, 2010), pp. 27-28.

[xv] Quoted in George Weigel, The End and the Beginning, p. 39-40.

[xvi] George Weigel, The End and the Beginning, p. 40.

[xvii] George Weigel, The End and the Beginning, p. 49.

[xviii] George Weigel, The End and the Beginning, p. 54.

[xix] George Weigel, The End and the Beginning, p. 53.

[xx] Robert Bolt, A Man for All Seasons (New York: Random House Vintage Books, 1962), pp. 91-92.

[xxi] John Farrow, The Story of Thomas More (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1954), p. 227.