Religious Persecution and Martyrdom

A reader sent me this.

It contains comments made by His Eminence Francis Card. George, Archbishop of Chicago.

In 2010, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago outlined the degree to which he believed religious freedoms (in the United States and other Western societies) were endangered. After the passage of legislation that enabled Civil Unions in Illinois, his eminence stated:

I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.[i]

In February of 2012, Cardinal George reflected on the seriousness of the Obama administration’s health-care mandate:

At the present moment, Catholics in this country are facing challenges to our institutional existence and our mission that we thought would never arise here. … The laws that used to protect us are now being used to weaken and destroy us, and this quite deliberately.[ii]

Shortly, thereafter, when the Obama administration and the media touted the fact that the Catholic Bishops are alone on the contraception issue and that most Catholics aren’t supporting them in this battle, Cardinal George wrote:

This is the first time in the history of the United States that a presidential administration has purposely tried to interfere in the internal working of the Catholic Church, playing one group off against another for political gain. What isn’t always understood is that the Bishops of the Church make no attempt to speak for all Catholics; they never have. The Bishops speak for the Catholic and apostolic faith, and those who hold that faith gather around them. Others disperse.[iii]

A few days later on at a press conference held at Loyola University on February 18th, he told the Chicago Tribune about the devastating effects of the HHS mandate for Catholic institutions:

The long-term effect is that the Catholic Church will be stripped of the institutions that are her instruments for public service. We will lose hospitals, we will lose universities. That’s not the country I was born in. … Something monumental is happening here.[iv]


[i] “Ever-increasing attacks on Church calling us to martyrdom”, St. Louis Review, (February 16, 2012). Available HERE, and “In Opposing the Right to Same-Sex Marriage, Catholic Leadership Opposes Laity and Wider Public”, Rainbow Sash Movement Blog (February 9, 2012). Available HERE.

[ii] Cardinal Francis George, “Changes on the Horizon”, Cardinal’s Network (February 6, 2012). Available HERE.

[iii] Cardinal Francis George, “A Timely Visit”, Cardinal’s Network (February 14, 2012). Available HERE.

[iv] “George: Government impinging on religious freedoms regarding contraception”, Chicago Tribune (February 18, 2012). Available HERE.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. mrose says:

    “The laws that used to protect us are now being used to weaken and destroy us, and this quite deliberately.”

    With all due respect to a Prince of the Church, this is horribly naive at best. This nation is founded upon a treasonous rejection of just authority, freemasonic ideas, and religious liberty. None of these are Catholic in the least. These latest behaviors by the government are immoral, to be sure, but this issue is not one of religious liberty, for Princes of Holy Mother Church ought not to seek an error that they may be better protected by a freemasonic liberal democracy.

    These laws are certainly being deliberately used to destroy the Church, but they never protected us in a proper and true sense. They may have kept the government silent and the Prelates of the Church silent, perhaps, but not protected from error.

  2. Supertradmum says:

    I think there has been a late but real awakening in Cardinal George. His diocese is full of liberalism, which is entrenched, but he has not done the radical surgery necessary either in the seminary under his control nor in some of the parishes where the priests are in disobedience in doctrine and lifestyle. Sadly, one man may feel overwhelmed by such things, but we each have to deal with truth and honesty on a daily basis. The political correctness and the lack of obedience to Rome has created a monster which may not be able to be controlled by those who have changed at the top, meaning the bishops. The American Catholic Church is not united, far from it, and only an honest appraisal of this will really change things. By the way, if people here have not read the graphic novel, “The Grand Inquisito”r by John Zmirak, I highly recommend it, as it explains a lot of what we are now seeing.

  3. EXCHIEF says:

    The Bishops need to do what good shepards used to do—speak out consistently and regularly against evil. If evil just happens to be a particular person occupying the White House so be it. The Bishops and the Church in the USA have been betrayed and used by the very political party so many of them have been aligned with for so long. They are now reaping what they have sowen for decades. Want to change it? Begin sowing real seed (the truth as taught by Holy Mother Church) instead of the politically correct social justice fluff of the past 50 years. Let us hope the growing season is not over.

  4. wmeyer says:

    “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.”

    Sourcing this quote is troublesome. It is cited on the Wikipedia page for Card. George, but the citation is from a gay website, which in turn cites the Archdiocesan Chicago newspaper. Prowling the archives for the latter, around the date specified (15 January 2010) turns up nothing.

    If anyone can find the document in which this appears, I would like to read it in full context.

  5. tmjost says:

    Let us fast and pray for our country and our Church. During this Lent, we can offer our sacrifices and sufferings for our Church. We are the Church Militant are we not? Let us fight this spiritual battle with our prayer and sacrifice! :) Tempus fugit!

  6. Clinton says:

    This president, these catholic-in-name-only senators, and that horrible 111th congress that
    was indispensable in the passage of obamacare– none of them were elected by our bishops.
    The majority of Catholic laymen voted for them. This is our mess to clean up.

    We can wish that our bishops had done a better job these past few decades, and we can wish
    that they wouldn’t be so naive now. But 181 bishops cannot march into the voting booths on
    election day and turn this situation around. We laity can. A letter from a bishop to a smug
    congressman would at best be given patronizing lip service. Letters and phone calls and emails
    from hundreds and thousands of angry Catholic laity will make that same smug congressman
    take notice. And signs that Catholic laity are organizing to make these politicians pay the price
    for their attacks on the Church would make those representatives soil themselves.

    When I hear folks complain about the poor leadership we’ve received, all in all, from the
    hierarchy in this country these past few decades, I understand and agree. But I cannot help but
    feel that our situation is similar to that of those adults whose lives are a shambles and who
    blame it all on the bad job done by their parents. It might be that those parents did indeed do
    an awful job of it. But at some point a real adult will admit that he’s responsible for taking
    care of the mess around him.

  7. Supertradmum says:

    Thank you, Clinton. It is grow-up time for all lay Catholics, in America and around the world, to take care of the Faith by and for themselves. No more relying on anyone else.

  8. Augustin57 says:

    The cardinals and bishops need to open the spigot wide open now that they’ve started. No reason to hold back on anything! Speak out against abortion, contraception, euthanasia, the whole ball of wax!

    Remember what the late Pope John Paul II said about speaking the truths of the Church. When we do, grace accompanies the message and when the individual hearing it is going to need those graces, it will be there for them!

    I remember hearing about a meeting of bishops and cardinals some years ago in South America, who were lamenting the fact that they had lost like five million Catholics from the Church in the previous few years. The reason was because they weren’t teaching the fullness of truth which the Church possesses, but were teaching liberation theology, which is hollow and empty. Grace did not accompany that teaching. At least the Protestants to whom these wayward Catholics were going taught and believed in the 10 Commandments. Just like with sheep. If you don’t feed them, they will stray in search of greener pastures.

    If the cardinals, bishops, and priests of our country were to faithfully and vigorously teach all that Holy Mother Church taught, the parishes would be overflowing and, likewise, the coffers. Why? Because the teachings of Christ enlighten and motivate the soul through grace! So many parishes have so watered down and vitiated the truths of Christ from the pulpit and in CCD classes, that they have reduced it down to utter ambiguity. Pablum! What’s needed is MEAT!

    I think there is a light at the end of the tunnel, although the train is creeping along quite slowly. The seminaries have gotten much better, for the most part, and we’re seeing a lot of much better trained and formed priests coming out. These young priests are much more faithful to Christ’s message than previous generations, especially those who attended seminary in the 60’s through the 80’s. (Just my opinion, of course!)

    I think the battle lines are forming, though. And those who are “on the fence” are going to be shaken off! There will be no more fence sitting! Either we are FOR Christ and His Mystical Body, the Church. Or we are against it!

    I was just looking at the blog over at the U.S. Catholic magazine’s site (they should be prevented from using the word “Catholic” in their title!), and one of the magazine’s writers wrote, “Sorry–I’m prejudiced against the College of Cardinals. It seems to me the very kind of institution most utterly out of conformity with the gospel. ” Wow! But, the bad news is, this guy is the norm for that rag, not the exception.

    Same goes for “Catholic” universities. If they aren’t really Catholic, then they should be secularized and that should be publicized for all parents to know, so they don’t fall into the trap of believing that their child is actually attending a Catholic university. I’d start with Notre Dame, BTW, because they are most visible.

  9. Gregg the Obscure says:

    wmeyer – thanks for the research. The quote, while it certainly could be accurate, sounds very much like the most fervent aspirations of many Obama supporters.

  10. smmclaug says:

    “The laws that used to protect us are now being used to weaken and destroy us, and this quite deliberately.”

    I noticed this too, but I object to it on somewhat different grounds from mrose. I would correct the (terminally naive) Card. George that in fact, the very same laws that have been oppressing the rest of us are now oppressing you, and well, you find that you don’t like it much. Imagine that.

    This phony distinction between religious and other kinds of conscience has been a convenient way for the Church brass to advocate for ruinous and intrusive regulation of people’s lives for decades, as well as for excessive permissiveness and indifference in legitimate areas of state concern (like immigration, crime and punishment, etc.). And if this crisis should pass, they won’t suddenly stop agitating for universal health care, despite the fact that no such system of care is possible, under present political reality, that does not tax the whole citizenry to pay for things to which they object. That’s the really crazy part–their basic agenda of health care for all (provided for by, uh, somebody else) hasn’t changed, and won’t change. Neither will their tireless efforts to flood the country with people who can’t possibly provide for their own health care, effectively creating a “crisis” which (surprise!) becomes a rationale for the very health care policy they’ve advocated all along.

    So honestly, I don’t want to hear it from him or anybody else who has spent his career building up the oppressive power of the secular liberal state, only to claim that suddenly, now, something’s not right. Contrary to His Excellency, this isn’t some NEW! UNEXPECTED! TURN! It’s business as usual for the rest of us shleps out here in non-ecclesiastic-land.

  11. Perhaps the 2 most pervasive problems that face both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches lies in the fact that both groups have been inclined to the Democratic Party for many good reasons in the past, but those reasons do not apply in the present. Secondly varying degrees of liberalism, which seem to be more compassionate toward the poor, has shown itself now for what it is: the eradication of the poor by birth control and abortion, and now the use of euthanasia for the no longer productive elderly. I am not so sure the other party is any better, but seems to be a better pace at the present. We all need to heed the admonition of St. Peter: “Brethren be sober , be watchful, for the enemy as a roaring lion goes about seeking someone to devour, Therefore, resist him steadfast in the Faith.” The evil one gets in league with those who hate God, or who have no lively faith. What is the source of the power of Obama? George Soros, an avid atheist and self proclaimed enemy of God. He makes no bones about it. A tool of the evil one is so-called liberation theology or whatever it has morphed into in these days. We must therefore go back to our roots of holiness and truth in order to have the real security of freedom.

  12. catholicmidwest says:

    Bishops are only able to claim NEW! UNEXPECTED! TURN! because they may have been surprised that they were double-crossed and then they were caught on it during their Ad Limina visits. I agree that they haven’t fooled everyone, even if some of them did fool themselves into believing that trying to get their works of charity done by the government is really doing Christian charity, which it is not.

  13. PhilipNeri says:

    Christ never promised his followers popular acclaim, thriving institutions, prestige among the elite, or happy NYT headlines. He promised us persecution, trial, imprisonment, and death at the hands of princes and governors.

    Get used to it.

    Fr. Philip Neri, OP

  14. Johnno says:

    @ Supertradmum

    I’m interested in hearing more about that Graphic Novel. I work at a comic book/art book store and could probably order it. In fact I myself have been in mind of making my own comic book to promote the authentic Teachings of the Church, but my artwork currently sucks… : P

  15. TMKent says:

    Regarding the first quote – in a quick search, the oldest reference I could find was from December 2010 saying that Chaput used it and quoted George .

  16. Phil B says:

    Believe me, I’m as troubled as the next person by what’s going on, and I devoutly wish that Obama and the Dems will get a sharp smack-down this year, in the courts and at the ballot box. But I think Fr. Neri is right-we can’t expect that, all we’re promised is a cross.

    Somehow we’ve got to reclaim the mind of the apostles, and all the saints down through the ages:
    “And calling in the apostles, after they had scourged them, they charged them that they should not speak at all in the name of Jesus, and they dismissed them.
    And they indeed went from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were accounted worthy to suffer reproach for the name of Jesus.” (Acts 5: 40-41)

    A cross and a crown. Let us not lose our joy.

    Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.

  17. catholicmidwest says:

    I cannot actually find a direct press report of Cardinal George making this comment either. The same observation has been made on other blogs as well. This may well be a cooked up quote unless someone else can find it.

    Nevertheless, it doesn’t change the fact that we are in a tight place. I hope that we prevail in the Supreme Court and/or Congress. If we don’t, like the rest of you, I am not sure what’s going to happen after that. Except that, of course, the Church will eventually prevail and her enemies will go down in forgetfulness as all her enemies do. There have been legions of them, all gone and forgotten, consigned to the dust-heap of history. These present villains will be no different although as always we have a fight on our hands in the present. And it may turn out to be a bad experience in the short haul.

    I urge you to contact your representatives in Congress. There is a bill called the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act, and its designations are HR1179 in the House and S1476. This bill will fill the gaps that exist in Conscience Rights precedents in the United States. We may need this bill to protect Catholics if the Supreme Court decision doesn’t pan out perfectly. Please go to the House of Representatives site and the Senate site. At each of those sites you will find contact forms where you can write to your representatives in Congress and tell them your views on this matter. We need your voice.

  18. catholicmidwest says:

    Phil B.
    Now is not the time to be passive. It’s easy to say you choose the cross. Wait til you taste it. It’s not so easy as all that big tough talk. Pray. And work. We have to get a handle on this mess.

  19. catholicmidwest says:


    Not to worry. This is going to sort itself out soon, very soon. We don’t need to borrow trouble. We’ve already got plenty, thanks.

    The big issue for Catholics in America is to realize that the Church means business, and even if it fumbles the ball somewhat here in the States, it won’t affect its ability to teach and its mission in the world. There will always be Catholics, even here no matter what, just like there are Catholics in Red China and yes, even Iran.

    Another clarion call: The secular culture is one thing and the culture of the Church is quite another. They’re not the same. Surprise!! Fooled you, huh? Just because you live your Christian life largely in the everyday events of your own secular life doesn’t mean those events are secularist. As in typical of a secular humanist. Work on that one for a while!

    Another one, a big one: Works of mercy are not those things the government does when it hands out money. Those are called bribes for votes. REAL works of mercy are those things that people do for the love of God and human beings who are made in his likeness and image. Period. As Mother Teresa of Calcutta so eloquently taught us not so long ago.

  20. bookworm says:

    “Sourcing this quote is troublesome. ”

    I was just about to say the same thing. The more I think about it and try to track down where it came from, the more it SOUNDS suspiciously, to me, like one of those invented quotes that goes around the internet being attributed to different people. Kind of like all the quotes/lists that are wrongly attributed to Abe Lincoln or to George Carlin!

  21. Dan says:

    @bookworm, et al.

    Perhaps this is not helpful, since it does not reference a document, but I am happy to confirm that this is something Cardinal George has actually said on multiple occasions.

  22. Supertradmum says:

    Johnno, you can get it on Amazon and help Fr Z above by ordering here.

    Dan, bookworm, wmeyer, Cardinal George did say that in a private setting. I know someone who heard him say that. It was later picked up by the local Chicago news, but quite some time ago.

  23. mrose says:

    Re the martyrdom quote, Supertradmum, Dan, bookworm, et al,

    I live in the Archdiocese of Chicago and too know several people who have heard it from the Cardinal, including a Mundelein (sp?) seminarian and an iconographer who is a personal acquaintance of the Cardinal.

  24. Supertradmum says:

    mrose, I knew he had said it at Mundelein. A sem told me.

  25. Pingback: Convert Journal – Obama’s war on religion (update #3)

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