Skip to main content


George Weigel Tells College Students: Defend Religious Freedom and Right to Life

Says Pro-Life Cause Is Successor to Civil Rights Movement

Weigel pointed out that religious freedom in the United States has been threatened by acts such as when the Supreme Court "erected a spurious 'right to abortion' as the right that trumps all other rights," and when legislators "decided that it was within the state's competence to redefine marriage and to compel others to accept that redefinition through the use of coercive state power."

George Weigel told the students

George Weigel told the students "If religiously informed moral argument is banned from the American public square, then the public square has become, not only naked, but undemocratic and intolerant."


MERRIMACK, NH (Zenit.org) - Catholic theologian and author George Weigel is urging college graduates to base themselves firmly in natural law in order to make a good defense of religious freedom in society today. The author of Pope John Paul II's biography "Witness to Hope" made this appeal at the May 16 graduation ceremony of the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts, in which he was awarded an honorary doctorate and gave the commencement address. "One of the great challenges of the younger generation of Catholics will be to rise to the defense of religious freedom in full," Weigel said. "This defense must be both cultural, in the sense of arguments winsomely and persuasively made, and political, in that young Catholics must drive the sharp edge of truth into the sometimes hard soil of public policy," he asserted. "Religious conviction is community-forming," the author noted, "and communities formed by religious conviction must be free, as communities and not simply as individuals, to make arguments and bring influence to bear in public life." He continued, "If religiously informed moral argument is banned from the American public square, then the public square has become, not only naked, but undemocratic and intolerant." Weigel pointed out that religious freedom in the United States has been threatened by acts such as when the Supreme Court "erected a spurious 'right to abortion' as the right that trumps all other rights," and when legislators "decided that it was within the state's competence to redefine marriage and to compel others to accept that redefinition through the use of coercive state power." Conscience rights He added that "the conscience rights of Catholic physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals are not second-class rights that can be trumped by other rights claims; and any state that fails to acknowledge those rights of conscience has done grave damage to religious freedom rightly understood." "The same can and must be said about any state that drives the Catholic Church out of certain forms of social service because the Church refuses to concede that the state has the competence to declare as 'marriage' relationships that are manifestly not marriages," Weigel said. He urged the college graduates and others in the audience to defend religious liberty by speaking a "common language" to those outside the Church, that of natural law and the truths of reason. These truths, the author pointed out, were referenced by Thomas Jefferson when he wrote about "inalienable rights" in the Declaration of Independence. As well, he added, Martin Luther King, Jr., civil rights movement leader, appealed to these same truths while challenging racial segregation. Weigel noted that "appeals to that same natural moral law underwrite the successor to the civil rights movement, which is the pro-life movement." "And appeals to the natural moral law have underwritten U.S. international human rights policy for the past 30 years," he added. The college president, William Fahey, also addressed the graduates, reminding them to "be mindful of the mark of true citizenship: that you are not dominated by pride, but that you turn always from yourself to the grandeur in this world, and then the reflection of the light incarnate, and then to the Light itself." Some of the graduates, who have all just completed a four-year undergraduate program centered on a study of the Great Books of the West, have gone on to various internships serving Catholic organizations. Several students have written for ZENIT.

Keywords:



NEWSLETTERS »

E-mail:       Zip Code: (ex. 90001)
Today's Headlines

Sign up for a roundup of the day's top stories. 5 days / week. See Sample

Rate This Article

Very Helpful Somewhat Helpful Not Helpful at All

Yes, I am Interested No, I am not Interested

Rate Article

1 - 5 of 5 Comments

  1. Sara Palen
    3 years ago

    Elana,

    you are right on.

    We must learn the catechism of the Catholic faith. We must learn the true teachings, and act upon our duties and responsibilities, which we must own unto ourselves.

    We must wake up, no longer be asleep at the wheel.

    We must not hide the true Light under the basket.

    Elena, your message rocks! Keep on keeping on, sister in Christ.

    (As for Mr. Wiegel; If JPII cooperated in the writing of JPII's biography, at least I should attempt to read and understand where he is coming from. In his recent adress to the graduates he underlines the premise that right makes might.)

  2. Gyem
    3 years ago

    God is our strength, may He continue defense the defenseless in Jesus name, Amen.

  3. Pam
    3 years ago

    The "left" wants nothing more than to silence us with new laws that are alien to our Founding Principles. George Weigel, as always, brings sharp clarity to bear on the shenanigans afoot in our courts, and in the decisions of those in power. It is amazing, how much is being torn down that was built on solid rock. We have been sleeping, but more and more of us are waking up. I hope and pray we will be able to recover all that has been lost!

  4. Elana
    3 years ago

    We all must help in this effort by educating our own cradle Catholics and others.
    People are so confused by the media and secular society that many don't know what they need to know to defend their Faith.
    The enemy is also from within.

    Get your Diocesan Bishop and Parish Priests to actively and prominently urge Catholics to read from cover to cover the "Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition", revised in accordance with the official Latin text promulgated by Pope John Paul II, and first printed in the US in March 2000.
    Don't wait !

    This Catechism is easy to read for anyone over age 16. Give it as gifts.

    As Cardinal John O'Conner once said: "the Catholic Church is not a salad bar. You can not pick and chose what you want to believe".

  5. vance
    3 years ago

    We Catholics are blessed to have George Weigel as a leading theologian. He is one of today's leading intellectuals. He will never be given this recognition because of the strong anti-christian bias that dominates the secular media. The secular media champions are lucky if they can speak in complete sentences without using the 'F' word. Weigel gets a standing ovation from me.

Leave a Comment

Comments submitted must be civil, remain on-topic and not violate any laws including copyright. We reserve the right to delete any comments which are abusive, inappropriate or not constructive to the discussion.

Though we invite robust discussion, we reserve the right to not publish any comment which denigrates the human person, undermines marriage and the family, or advocates for positions which openly oppose the teaching of the Catholic Church.

This is a supervised forum and the Editors of Catholic Online retain the right to direct it.

We also reserve the right to block any commenter for repeated violations. Your email address is required to post, but it will not be published on the site.

We ask that you NOT post your comment more than once. Catholic Online is growing and our ability to review all comments sometimes results in a delay in their publication.

Send me important information from Catholic Online and it's partners. See Sample

Post Comment

Find your College Now