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Archbishop Kurtz Tells Red Mass… Threat To Catholics By Politicians, Judges “Is Real”

January 23, 2019 Frontpage No Comments


PHOENIX — The founder of an internationally active organization defending religious conscience and the chairman of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ Committee on Religious Liberty both warned of the growing threat to Catholics during ceremonies here commemorating St. Thomas More, the Lord High Chancellor of England who was executed for fidelity to his faith.
Alan Sears, founder of the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) in 1994, recalled that the Catholic More was put to death in 1535 for two reasons — defending the traditional definition of marriage, and for exercising his freedom of conscience in the resulting dispute.
More refused to recognize King Henry VIII’s divorce and the king’s claim to be head of the Church in England which flowed from the marriage dispute.
Meanwhile, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, the bishops’ religious-liberty chairman and head of the Archdiocese of Louisville, Ky., noted current political and judicial attacks on U.S. Catholics and said, “This threat is not abstract. It is real.”
Kurtz served as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops from 2013 to 2016. He was guest homilist at the January 14 Red Mass at St. Mary’s Basilica here for the local St. Thomas More Society of Catholic legal professionals. They honored Sears, an Arizona resident, as this year’s recipient of their St. Thomas More Award.
Receiving the award at a January 15 breakfast, Sears recalled that because of subsequent anti-Catholic developments in England, there was only one location throughout the British Empire where Catholics lawfully could attend Mass, colonial Philadelphia.
Sears said that when he visited England once, he had the opportunity to handle “hundreds of relics” from the days of Catholic persecution.
Citing a case of Christians being persecuted right in Phoenix that’s being handled by ADF, Sears said the two owners of Brush & Nib calligraphy studio oppose a decree by the Phoenix City Council that imposes serious penalties of imprisonment and fines for failing to promote same-sex ceremonies.
A January 10 ADF statement added: “The ordinance also forbids them from publicly expressing the Christian beliefs that prevent them from doing so and that require them to create art celebrating only marriages between one man and one woman.”
When More was urged to sign on with others as a matter of fellowship to defer to Henry VIII’s wishes, Sears recalled, More replied that when he would be sent to Hell for not following his conscience, “will you come with me, for fellowship?”
Sears closed his remarks at the breakfast by reminding listeners that without Christ, “we can do nothing . . . St. Thomas More, pray for us.”
Following Sears, Kurtz told the breakfast audience, “Freedom of conscience to me is an echo of God’s grace in my heart.” Asked by a man how should the court of public opinion be reached in an appealing way, Kurtz replied, “We have to go out and be able to tell our story, and listen.”
After the breakfast questions concluded, The Wanderer asked Kurtz about a comment Sears made last October at a Diocese of Phoenix legislative seminar.
Sears had warned that the 2016 election results didn’t mean targeting of Christians was over, but that Donald Trump’s presidential victory meant “a few moments” of relief from federal governmental pressures against their principles that had been exerted by the Obama administration, and would have been expected to continue under a President Hillary Clinton.
Kurtz replied to The Wanderer, “We as a Church have been law-abiding citizens,” and he didn’t expect Catholics to cease to be so. However, he said, preparations to keep standing up for principle are a sign of hope, and the Blackstone Legal Fellowship is one such sign.
Blackstone (blackstonelegalfellowship.org) is an intensive legal internship program for Christian law students that was developed by Sears’ ADF.
One Blackstone participant introduced Sears at the award breakfast.
Don’t wait for the day when there is no relief left for Christian principles, Kurtz told The Wanderer, adding that the problem isn’t with those attacking religious liberty but those who are lukewarm in response.

We Need Religious Freedom

The previous evening, January 14, Kurtz reminded attorneys and public officials during his 21-minute Red Mass homily at St. Mary’s Basilica that in 1965, during Vatican II, a document on religious liberty was proclaimed — “The right not to be coerced, the right of religious freedom.”
America’s Founders made it plain that in order for the country to survive, “we need religious freedom,” Kurtz said.
As is customary at the basilica’s annual Red Mass, a large portrait of More up front faced the congregation.
“Should we be vigilant” for religious freedom when U.S. senators recently attacked a judicial nominee because he belongs to the Knights of Columbus, Kurtz asked. He warned against applying “a religious test for public service.”
Left-wing pro-abortion Democrat Senators Kamala Harris, of California, and Mazie Hirono, of Hawaii, had attacked Trump’s federal judicial nominee Brian Buescher, a Catholic, for his membership in the Knights. This was one of various bigoted Democrat attacks against traditional believers who Dems view as unfriendly to their party’s serious immorality.
Kurtz told Mass attendees that although the Trump administration had been “seeking to give relief” to the consciences of those opposed to providing morally objectionable services, like the Little Sisters of the Poor, a federal judge in northern California had just allowed a challenge to their exemption to go forward.
The challenge came from the Golden State’s rabidly pro-abortion Democrat attorney general, Xavier Becerra.
In addition, another Obama-appointed judge, in Pennsylvania, also had just allowed a challenge to go forward against religious conscience.
The archbishop told the Phoenix Mass that back in 1929, English author G.K. Chesterton said More’s “example is more important today than it was in 1535,” but it wasn’t as important in 1929 as it will be 100 years from then.
One hundred years from 1929, Kurtz added, will be 2029.

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