Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Yesterday, we celebrated the feast day of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More, two Catholic heroes who refused to go along, merely "for friendship's sake", with Henry VIII's power-and-money grab.
I realize that, in some quarters, it is thought to be an overreaction to worry about the coming (quickly) grave challenges to religious freedom. It is thought, or hoped, that we can and should leave "culture wars" behind, and that the optimism, joy, and popularity of Pope Francis make worries and concerns about religious freedom something only for the pinched, crabbed, overly litigious or "obsessed." But, unfortunately, the challenges and threats are real and the worries and concerns are well founded. The Pope's popularity and the fact that some who are not ordinarily all that interested in the Church's moral anthropology or account of the world like a few sentences in the new encyclical do not change the fact that it is increasingly mainstream in developed, western countries to think the logic of congruence should be applied to religious institutions and agencies and that it is enough, for religious liberty, to allow people to believe and worship as they like.
It's worth remembering, when we think of Saints Thomas More and John Fisher, that England was chock-full of Catholic bishops and lawyers like them right before the Act of Supremacy . . . and the Sovereign was able to get them on board.