Convention Insider

Without Freedom, the Human Person and Human Society Suffer

Archbishop Richard Smith addresses the 130th Supreme Convention

President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops Archbishop Richard Smith from the Archdiocese of Edmonton addressed the 130 Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus during their States Dinner.

Taking to the dais to speak on the topic of religious liberty, the Archbishop acknowledged the recent developments here in the United States, but reminded the crowd that “this is not a concern unique to the people of this land.”

In Canada too,” Smith said, “we face many challenges in this regard, as to Christians and people of faith elsewhere throughout the world.”

“These freedoms,” the Archbishop told the crowd of 2,000 Knights and their families,” are not granted by the state, society, or any human authority…[and] when these freedoms are disregarded or repressed, the human person and therefore human society suffers.”
It is not legitimate secularism that is the problem, Smith said, but radical secularism.

“This disfigured view of the secular,” the Archbishop said, “attempts to silence religious believers when their views contradict its own…It is hostile to a truly democratic and pluralist society in that it tolerates only its own voice and tries to silence all others. On an issue of such fundamental importance, we must not fail to be vocal. It’s not just a Catholic issue, but impacts the lives of all believers, and even those of no faith.”

Echoing the sentiments of many speakers at the convention, the Archbishop asked the Knights in attendance to continue to act.

“Our call at this moment is to affirm the right of religion to be active in the public square,” he said, “…to defend the freedom of people of faith and of religious institutions to act in accordance with their beliefs and nature; to maintain healthy church state relations; to understand conscience correctly and to form it according to objective truth; and to protect the right to conscientious objection. Believers are summoned now to stand up for their faith, even if they must suffer for doing so.”
The Knights of Columbus do not shy away from this,” he concluded. “And we bishops are very grateful for your witness.”