Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, a south Jersey native and “something of a Philly boy” according to local news, spoke at the graduation of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
Reporters were not allowed to record the event. But one local news outlet reports he gave a strong warning about diminishing respect for religion here in the United States, and issued a call to stand with Christian martyrs abroad:
“For most of my life, American people have been united in their strong respect for religious liberty. But recently, things have started to change,” Alito said.
He added: “The idea that speech can be banned if it expresses an idea that is offensive is spreading around the country.”
He also quoted his own dissent from Obergefell to the 75 or so grads: “I assume that those who cling to old beliefs will be able to whisper their thoughts in the recesses of their homes, but if they repeat those views in public, they will risk being labeled as bigots and treated as such by governments, employers, and schools.”
But we also should recognize what real persecution looks like. Justice Alito, speaking as a Roman Catholic, pointed to a study suggesting 90,000 Christians worldwide were killed for their faith last year:
“There are more martyrs today than ever,” Alito said. “We in the United States need to pay more attention to what is happening to our sisters and brothers in other parts of the world.”
These are sobering words for the next generation of American priests from a brother in Christ and prominent legal luminary.
Photo credit: Italy in US via Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0