June 27, 2013

The surest way to persecution is to say, “It can't happen here”

By Father George Rutler

Our parish is blessed with a shrine to Saint Thomas More. The young artist who painted it after Holbein was a refugee from communist Eastern Europe. He did such a good job that Cardinal Egan, dedicating it, said that he would not be surprised if this were the original.

We recently celebrated the joint feasts of Thomas More, who was Chancellor of England, and John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester. Their personalities were different in many ways, and it was almost a miracle that an Oxford man and a Cambridge man got on so well and eventually were canonized together. The Act of Succession and the Act of Supremacy were the challenges that King Henry VIII threw at them, and the saints returned the challenge. The issues were rooted in natural law: the meaning of marriage and the claims of government. These are the same issues that loom large today. Whatever our courts of law may decide about these matters, Saint Thomas says: “I am not bound, my lord, to conform my conscience to the council of one realm against the General Council of Christendom.” In 1919, G. K. Chesterton predicted with powerful precision that great as More’s witness was then, “he is not quite so important as he will be in a hundred years’ time.”

For every courageous saint back then, there were many who instead took the safe path of complacency. More’s own family begged him to find some loophole, and — after the sudden deaths of eight other bishops — Fisher was the only one left who acted like an apostle. Those who opted for comfort and wove the lies of their world into a simulation of truth had a banal and shallow faith that Pope Francis has called “rose water.” It is a good image, for rose water is not blood and cannot wash away sin.

The “Man for All Seasons” wrote to his beloved Margaret from his cell in the Tower of London: “And, therefore, my own good daughter, do not let your mind be troubled over anything that shall happen to me in this world. Nothing can come but what God wills. And I am very sure that whatever that be, however bad it may seem, it shall indeed be the best.”

The “Fortnight for Freedom” extended from the vigil of the feasts of Fisher and More to July 4, but its prayers continue, as the Church’s many charitable and evangelical works are threatened by our present government’s disdain for the religious conscience, most immediately evident in the Health and Human Services mandate and the redefinition of marriage. In 1534 Henry VIII’s arrogation of authority over the Church was quickly followed by a Treasons Act which made it a high crime to criticize the King. In contemporary America as in Tudor England, the surest way to let that happen is to say, “It can't happen here.”

Father Rutler is Pastor of the Church of Our Saviour in New York City.


  1. Dear Fr. Rutler:

    An excellent reminder of the faith which should innoculate us against the epidemic of Anti-Catholicism.

    I invite you to view my blog "Pastoral Republican" which is dedicated primarily to St. Thomas More. See especially my article @ http://douglassbartley.wordpress.com/2012/03/14/facing-torture-and-death-nobly-the-courage-of-sts-more-and-fisher/

    And there is a Blog Table of Contents with a listing of some 230 articles @ http://douglassbartley.wordpress.com/

    Please add me to your E-Mail list. My address is douglassbartley@gmail.com

    I am rereading the Sermons of Father Knox, and saw your name and endorsement on the back cover. We share a love for Fr. Knox.

    All Best Wishes,
    A Cruce Salus
    Judge Douglass Bartley

  2. Remember That the King of England is NOT Greater than God as Thomas More proved by his refusal to accept the religious authority of HenryVIII, and his illegal marriage to Anee Boleyn. Because even a King of England can be beheaded for Treason as Charles I was guilty of by hiring a foreign army to invade England.

  3. Those who criticize the "king" stand to get audited.

  4. Justice Kennedy Pimps the Culture of Death

    For many years, Justice Kennedy, a putative Catholic appointed by
    President Reagan when the Senate sunk Justice Bork’s nomination, has
    been pimping for the Culture of Death whether it be “gay marriage” or
    infanticide. From my four volume treatise, The Kiss of Judice: The Constitution Betrayed, (The Kiss of Judice: The Constitution Betrayed–Table of Contents for Volumes 1-4) here are some excerpts from his opinions starting with his opinion legalizing sodomy. For the rest of the article, see http:// douglassbartley.wordpress.com/

  5. The hyperlink at the end of my last comment is wrong. It should be http://douglassbartley.wordpress.com/

  6. Hi, I'm really trying to find a way to comment on Dr. Mark Miravalle's analysis of the messages of Maria Divine Mercy. I saw an article he wrote posted on this site.

    I strongly believe these messages have to be discussed further that they like all messages take time to become accepted but in this case the world may not have the grace of time. When a report like Miravalle's is presented as such it implies it is ought to be a closed issue, ignored. How tragic! This should never be the case of discernment of such matters for how many times have matters which seemed all but dead in time became as resurrected? Fatima visionaries once questioned, interrogated, scorned, are now renown.