“Where education and freedom are the children of morality and religion, … democracy … makes better choices than anywhere else,” wrote Alexis de Tocqueville in his famous work “Democracy in America,” published in 1831.
Bishop James Conley of Lincoln, Nebraska, made the case March 9 that those words remain true nearly two centuries later, and that Catholics need to engage the public square, while speaking to more than 1,000 Catholics gathered for Minnesota’s first-ever Catholics at the Capitol event. Organized by Minnesota Catholic Conference, the education and advocacy event drew Catholics from every region of the state.
A member of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ ad hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, Bishop Conley noted that the Minnesota State Capitol stands at the confluence of streets named for two prominent American leaders: Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Archbishop John Ireland.
“Those two streets on which the Capitol stands should remind us of two fundamental and important truths: that democracies depend on believers to witness prophetically to virtue, to truth, to goodness and to beauty; that believers have a critical and important role to play in the public life for the common good, to build a culture of live and a civilization of love; and we must do all of this as … missionary disciples of Jesus Christ. Your state needs your faith and your witness,” he said.
He told Catholics that democracy’s success depends on the “generous participation of believers.”