It’s really a remarkable thing.
This president and this White House, through all the chaos and bluster that seem to constantly surround both, have demonstrated a closeness to the Catholics of this nation that is really unprecedented.
From President Trump being the first to make a personal appearance at the March for Life, to the sounds of Ave Maria being performed at the White House at conclusion of the 2020 Republican National Convention, to his appointment of openly Catholic mother of seven, Amy Coney Barrett, to the Supreme Court, it’s an administration that seems to always have a hand out in friendship to American Catholics.
This week, President Trump extended this hand of friendship again, commemorating the 850th anniversary of the martyrdom of St. Thomas Becket in stirring language like the following:
The King’s knights responded and rode to Canterbury Cathedral to deliver Thomas Becket an ultimatum: give in to the King’s demands or die. Thomas’s reply echoes around the world and across the ages. His last words on this earth were these: “For the name of Jesus and the protection of the Church, I am ready to embrace death.” Dressed in holy robes, Thomas was cut down where he stood inside the walls of his own church.
We pray for religious believers everywhere who suffer persecution for their faith. We especially pray for their brave and inspiring shepherds — like Cardinal Joseph Zen of Hong Kong and Pastor Wang Yi of Chengdu — who are tireless witnesses to hope.
To honor Thomas Becket’s memory, the crimes against people of faith must stop, prisoners of conscience must be released, laws restricting freedom of religion and belief must be repealed, and the vulnerable, the defenseless, and the oppressed must be protected. The tyranny and murder that shocked the conscience of the Middle Ages must never be allowed to happen again. As long as America stands, we will always defend religious liberty.
A society without religion cannot prosper. A nation without faith cannot endure — because justice, goodness, and peace cannot prevail without the grace of God.
The proclamation champions Becket’s role in the global fight for religious liberty. For many traditionalist Catholics, such an assertion will chafe, but it’s hard to argue against Becket’s own words, in which he expressed a desire that “the Church will attain liberty and peace.”
Whatever one believes about the Church’s stand on religious liberty — debates on the subject will continue long after we’re gone, no doubt — in an irremediably secular world, religious liberty is certainly a more desirable goal, even for Catholics, than coercion on the part of any number of anti-Catholic states.
If you don’t believe me, just ask the faithful in China.
The full proclamation, which can also be read at the White House website, follows.
Proclamation on 850th Anniversary of the Martyrdom of Saint Thomas Becket
Steve Skojec is the Founding Publisher and Executive Director of OnePeterFive.com. He received his BA in Communications and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2001. His commentary has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Crisis Magazine, EWTN, Huffington Post Live, The Fox News Channel, Foreign Policy, and the BBC. Steve and his wife Jamie have seven children.