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Remarks at the Welcoming and Evening Prayer Service

For Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda

May 12, 2016

I am not a Catholic, but

I was once a student at the University of Chicago Divinity School studying to
become a theologian. God had other things in mind for me however, but I learned a
great deal while I was there. One thing that has stayed with me is a profound
affection for Catholic theology. It is the theological dedication to the self-evident
truths our nation was founded on as well as a dedication to the revealed truths of
scripture that I find admirable and necessary.
Some say the proper relationship between the Church and the State is one of
separation. Im not so sure that is right. In fact, over in St. Paul we have our capitol
on one hill and nearby the Cathedral on another hill joined by John Ireland
Boulevard. This was done intentionally, so I am told, as a symbol of the two moral
forces that provide us instruction in our efforts to order our lives together. Instead
of separation, perhaps the relationship should be characterized as one of
Our nation has long understood the importance of a virtuous people in perpetuating
this experiment in self-government. And there is no doubt that religion has played
the most significant role in forming that culture from which virtue is learned. In fact,
the first law concerning education our young nation passed stated, Religion,
morality and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of
mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged. This
law has neither been repealed nor repudiated. It has, however, been forgotten.

Securing our natural rights under natural law is the purpose of good government
and we need the institutions of faith to help inform the decisions of those of us
called to govern as well as to help form the culture from which we are called, and to
which we are held to account.
We are now confronted with difficult times; difficult times for the Church and difficult
times for our state and our nation. The right of conscience is under attack; our
culture deteriorates; for too many, family is an idea without content. We need
leaders with vision; we need virtuous people; we need a culture rooted in the reality
of natural law; Where there is no vision, the people perish. Your office and the role
of the Church in this state is vital.
My prayer for you is simply that you will be blessed with wisdom, courage and
prudence. Wisdom to know what needs to be done, the courage to do it, and the
prudence to choose wisely those battles to fight.
As I thought about being here this evening, I was reminded of the Letter George
Washington wrote to the Hebrew congregation of Newport, RI in 1790:
All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no
more that toleration is spoken of, as if it were by the indulgence of one class of
people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For
happily the government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to
persecution no assistance requires only that they who live under its protection
should demean themselves as good citizens.
May [those who dwell in this land] continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the
other inhabitants; while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree,
and there shall be none to make him afraid. May the Father of all mercies scatter
light and not darkness in our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful
here, and in His own due time and way everlastingly happy.

Welcome Archbishop Hebda.