By David Kerr
An American bishop has predicted that government authorities may one day attempt to silence the Catholic Church in the United States.
“We could see the possibility of it within the United States where we are no longer free to preach the truth from the pulpit or to present Catholic teaching,” Bishop Samuel J. Aquila of Fargo, North Dakota, told CNA on a visit to Rome October 7.
“It will then become important for us to take a very strong stand, as we have done with human life and the unborn child, to continue to speak the truth and to speak it clearly and with charity.”
Bishop Aquila cited two recent examples where he believes religious liberty is being undermined: the closure of Catholic adoption agencies in states that have legislated for same-sex “marriage” and the new government health mandate requiring private insurers to provide women with coverage for contraception and sterilization.
“It’s very, very important for us to realize that we are in a very real clash between the culture of death and a culture of life,” said Bishop Aquila, summing up the former culture as one where “rights are eroded and where lies are being presented as truth.”
Bishop Aquila said he doesn’t know how the present stand the stand-off between Church and state will be resolved, but he is certain that Catholics “will have to stand for the truth” and “speak clearly to the truth no matter what the cost.” He doesn’t rule out the possibility of civil disobedience.
“Either we’re going to have to enter into conscientious objection and say we won’t do this or we will need to co-operate – which we cannot do and still be faithful,” he said.
And he worries that in those states where the practice of the Catholic faith in areas such as adoption and fostering has been declared illegal, that the preaching of that same faith may also eventually face legal sanction.
“I tell our seminarians: you must be prepared to enter into this battle because it’s a battle we need to enter into and speak the truth,” he said.
Bishop Aquila was in Rome for the ordination of one of those seminarians to the diaconate, one of four new deacons for the Diocese of Fargo this year. His words of congratulation to them, though, have also been mingled with words of warning.
“There will be people who will hate you because of the stand which you take, there will be people who ridicule you, yell at you,” he said, “and they did all the same things to Christ when he proclaimed the truth and we can expect no less in the times in which we live.”