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O, the Times in Which We Find Ourselves


The date…July 6, 1535. The place…England. The time…the English Reformation. A 57-year-old husband, father, lawyer, and faithful Catholic is lead to the scaffolding where he is to be executed, beheaded, tried treason for refusing to render allegiance to the King as the head of the Church of England. He told those gathered to witness his death, “I am dying the King’s good servant- but God’s first.” Saint Thomas More had been an up and coming lawyer and parliamentarian. He eventually caught the eye of King Henry VIII who appointed him Lord Chancellor in 1529. He resigned at the height of his career in 1532 when the King persisted in challenging the Catholic Church’s teachings on marriage and the supremacy of the Pope. Thomas found himself caught between his faith and his responsibilities as an agent of the King. Recognizing that there was no way to rectify the conflict between his faith and the state, St. Thomas More chose to resign and spent his remaining years writing treatises in defense of the Church.

            Fast forward almost 500 years. The date…Sept. 4, 2015. The place…Morehead, KY. Kim Davis, a county clerk is ordered by the court to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples or face contempt of court charges and jail time. She refuses to comply citing her conviction that marriage can only exist between one man and woman. Her stand ultimately leads to her imprisonment. She is lauded by some as a hero for standing up against an immoral law. Others are vilifying her for attempting to force her personal beliefs on others while holding a government position. Which side is right? What is a faithful Catholic to do and believe about the current environment in which we find ourselves? How do we interpret this specific situation and its effects on the rest of us?

            I think the answer to the first question is that both sides make a valid argument. Those who are lauding her for taking a stand against an immoral law (that being the redefinition of marriage throughout the nation) are correct. As faithful Christians, we have an obligation to always live in the Truth of the faith. Living in a pluralistic society, as we do in the United States, inevitably means that we are going to encounter situations in which our firmly held religious beliefs are going to bring us into direct conflict with the larger society. It is at these moments when the voice of Christ can be heard in the back of our mind, “No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Mt. 6:24). Ms. Davis made a very firm and public stand stating that God’s law trumps the law of the state and that she, in good conscience, could not participate in the issuing of marriage licenses to same sex couples. This stand led directly to her being held in contempt and escorted to prison. Based on this, she is to be lauded for holding to her firmly held religious beliefs and her willingness to accept the consequences of that stand.

            But there is another side to this story. Kim Davis was a duly appointed agent of the state of Kentucky who either through a public oath, or at a minimum because of her job description, was expected to uphold the laws of the state in accordance with her office. By virtue of her employment she was expected to represent the interests of the state of Kentucky and not her personal interests. Regardless of the morality of the law, there was an expectation that she would enforce the law as transmitted by the state government regardless of her personal views. In this sense, those opposing her make a valid argument against her stand. In carrying out her duties as a county clerk, Ms. Davis was not acting on her own behalf but rather as an agent of the state. She was lawfully imprisoned for refusing to carry out the duties of her office.

            Here lies the difference between St. Thomas More and Kim Davis. Both individuals acted on the convictions of their faith, but one chose the better path. Saint Thomas More recognized that there was inherent conflict between his faith and the duties of his job. He understood the term agency. Agency is defined as

a fiduciary relationship between two parties in which one (the ‘agent’) is under the control of (obligated to) the other (the ‘principal’). The agent is authorized by the principal to perform certain acts, for and on behalf of the principal.

In their positions, both Thomas More and Kim Davis were acting as “agents” of the government (the ‘principal’) who expected them to publicly represent their interests. Saint Thomas recognized that he could not rectify the position of the English government of his time with his firmly held religious beliefs and understood that he could no longer in good conscience continue to act as an agent of the government. As a result, he chose to withdraw from his position so as to not compromise his faith or his role as Lord Chancellor.

            On the other hand, Ms. Davis, who also recognized the conflict between her beliefs and the expectations of her office, chose instead to act as her own agent instead of as an agent of the state, violating the relationship she had established with the state by virtue of her employment. When she chose not to issue the marriage licenses, an act that the principal (the state government) expected her to do, she violated the terms of her employment as she was not longer acting as an agent of the state.

            Another difference between St. Thomas More and Kim Davis was the fact that St. Thomas recognized that, as a faithful Catholic, he had no right to force others to act in accordance with his firmly held beliefs, especially while an agent of the government. He chose to withdraw from his position and, as a private citizen, live with the consequences of that stand, that being the loss of his job and the good graces of the King.

What makes Thomas More’s situation rise to the level of sainthood and martyrdom is the fact that after vacating his government position so that another who was willing to act as an agent of the state could take office, he was hunted down, imprisoned and eventually executed for attempting to live out personally and privately his faith. On the other hand, Kim Davis was held in contempt and placed in prison for trying to force her firmly held beliefs on those who do not hold the same values, in a government position. Sometimes, a consequence of faithfully living out our faith is sacrificing the position, the power, and the prestige that worldly positions afford us.


A Fruitful Witness


A consequence of living in a pluralistic, and increasingly diverse, democratic society is that the values we hold are at odds with those around us. As Catholics, we believe that all have a right to pursue happiness and the good in their own way. We believe that through the faith of Jesus Christ and the One, Holy, Apostolic, Catholic Church true happiness and the ultimate good can be attained. However, faith is not something that can be forced upon another. In 2008, while addressing Bishops and clergy from Kazakhstan and Central Asia, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI encouraged them to keep the flame of faith alive while calling out the dangers of religious fundamentalism. He reminded those in attendance that:

The Church does not impose but freely proposes the Catholic faith, well aware that conversion is the mysterious fruit of the action of the Holy Spirit. Faith is a gift and a work of God, and hence excludes any form of proselytism that forces, allures or entices people by trickery to embrace it….A person may open to the faith after mature and responsible reflection, and must be able freely to realize that intimate aspiration. This benefits not only the individual, but all society, because the faithful observance of divine precepts helps to build a more just and united form of coexistence.

As a people of faith, we are called not to force our beliefs upon others (even when it may be happening to us), but to stand in faithful witness to the truth through our own holiness of life. As difficult as it may be, people have the right to make wrong choices. We have an obligation to speak and witness to the truth, but more often than not, sacrifice bears a more fruitful witness to the Truth than forced compliance. This is the beauty of St. Thomas More. He chose to sacrifice his very life for the sake of the faith and in doing so gave strength to other believers to continue their own witness.

            In her 2000 year history, the Church has encountered many governments, regimes, and cultures that have sought to change Her views through manipulation, coercion, or outright persecution; She has outlasted them all. No doubt, if our country continues down the moral path it is going, faithful Christians will encounter more and more resistance to their firmly held beliefs. We are called, like Thomas More, to be good servants of the “government”- but God’s first. This means participating in society in order to improve it and help the Truth to be manifest, but to recognize that we may be forced out of participation in certain areas of life because they would compromise our beliefs and endanger our souls. Saint Thomas More, pray for us!

- Fr. Robert Fath


Support the Right to Life--Pro-Life Rally and Planned Parenthood Protest NEXT WEEKEND!

On August 22 from 9:00-11:00 am we have an opportunity to publiclly witness to the Culture of Life by protesting againts Planned Parenthood's harvesting and selling of fetal body parts. As a people of faith, we believe that life begins at conception and that every human being has a right to life regardless of age, gender, race, creed or ability/disability. Help make the truth known this Saturday. This rally is part of a nationally organized event to call the public and our government to defund Planned Parenthood and protect the most vulnerable among us!

WHEN: Saturday, August 22

TIME: 9:00 am-11:00 am

WHERE: In front of Planned Parenthood of Airport Way

1867 Airport Way, Fairbanks, Alaska


Support our local Catholic Radio Station...KQHE annual fundraiser!

We are blessed to have a local Catholic radio station here in Fairbanks, KQHE (Queen of Heaven and Earth). In order for them to continue to offer quality Catholic programming in the interior they need YOUR HELP! On Saturday, August 29th, KQHE will hold their annual fundraising event at the Catholic Schools of Fairbanks. The featured speaker this year will be Fr. Mitch Pacwa, SJ. Come out and support Catholic radio....come out and support the faith!



Marriage as a Fundamental Building Block of the Family and the State


Our parish and our diocese are disheartened by the decision of the SCOTUS with regard to the case Obergefell v. Hodges which has redifined the institution of marriage in this country. The USCCB, regional episcopal conferences and individual bishops around the country have issues statements regading this decision. Below are the responses from the USCCB, ACCB (Alaska Catholic Conference of Bishops) and Bishop Zielinski's personal statement and a number of other dioceses around the country:

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Statement of the Alaska Conference of Catholic Bishops

 Bishop Zielinski's Statement

Michigan Conference of Catholic Bishops

The Supreme Court decision does not change the teachings of our Church on marriage, family or the human person. It does, however, challenge us to be prepared to witness wo what the Church has always held to be true. Below are a number of links that provide resources for learning more about what Christ and His Church have always taught. This is meant to be a start and not a comprehensive list:


Marriage, Unique for A Reason

For Your Marriage

Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan (USCCB 2009)

Married Love and the Gift of Life (USCCB 2006)

Between Man And Woman: Questions and Answers About Same Sex Unions (USCCB 2003)

Gaudium et Spes (Vatican II 1965), particularly no. 47-52

Casti Conubii (Pope Pius XI 1930)


An Address to Engaged Couples (Pope Benedict XVI 2011)

Verbum Domini (Pope Benedict XVI 2010)

Caritas in Veritate (Pope Benedict XVI 2009) especially no. 15, 44, & 51

Sacramentum Caritatis (Pope Benedict XVI 2007) especially no. 27-29

Letter to Women (Pope St. John Paul II 1995)

Letter to Families (Pope St. John Paul II 1994)

Mulieris Dignitatem (Pope St. John Paul II 1988)

Familiaris Consortio (Pope St. John Paul II 1981)

Humane Vitae (Pope Paul VI 1968)


Courage: A Roman Catholic Apostolate (Website)

Marriage and Same Sex Unions (USCCB 2007)

Ministry to Persons with homosexual Inclination (USCCB 2006)

La Homosexualidad y Campana Contra La Homofobia (Mexican Bishops Conference 2005)

 In Search of Best Practices in Ministry with Gay and Lesbian Catholics (CARA- Georgetown University 2004)

Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons (CDF 2003)

Always Our Children: Pastoral Message to Parents of Homosexual Children and Suggestions for Pastoral Ministers (USCCB 1997)

Letter to Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons (CDF 1986)

Persona Humana (CDF 1975)



Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus


This Friday, June 12th, the diocese will celebrate the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus...the patronal feast day of our Cathedral in Fairbanks. Bishop Zielinski would like to invite all our parishioners to a special celebration as he consecrates the diocese and all of us to the safety, protection and patronage of the Sacred Heart. Join us as we pray to be held in the bosom of Christ in the coming years. The celebration will be held at Sacred Heart Cathedral beginning at 5:00 pm.


5:00 pm- Healing Service with Anointing of the Sick and Confession

6:00 pm- Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament (Confessions will continue)

7:00 pm- Mass and Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus



Jesus, I believe in Your personal love for one so sinful and worthless as I am

(Repeat after each of the following: Heart of Jesus, I put my trust in You.)

I believe that Your love for me is from all eternity and that it is as tender as a mother’s love.

I believe that You have lovingly and wisely planned everything that shall ever happen to me.

I will never seek pleasure forbidden by You and will never lose heart in my efforts to be good.

I will accept the crosses of life as I accept its joys, with a grateful heart, and I will always pray, “Your holy will be done in all things.”

I will not be worried or anxious about anything, for I know You will take care of me.

However weak or sinful I may be, I will never doubt Your mercy.

In all my temptations...

In all my weakness…

In all my sorrows…

In every discouragement…

In all my undertakings…

In life and in death…

Heart of love, I put all my trust in you; for I fear all things from my own weakness, but I hope for all things from Your goodness.