"Verily, daughter, I never intend -- God being my good lord -- to pin my soul at another man's back, not even the best man that I know this day living; for I know not whither he may hap to carry it," More said, according to documents published online by the Center for Thomas More Studies at the University of Dallas.
"Some may do for favor, and some may do for fear, and so might they carry my soul a wrong way," said More. "And some may be peradventure of that mind, that if they say one thing and think the while the contrary, God more regards their heart than their tongue, and that therefore their oath goes upon what they think, and not upon what they say."
But Thomas More was not one of these. "I can use no such ways in so great a matter," he told his daughter. "I dare not do it, my own conscience standing against it."
This saint -- a martyr for truth -- faced the ultimate sort of tyrant: a political official who used the power of government to try to force men to act against their consciences.
More refused. Henry VIII cut off his head.
Now, the Roman Catholic bishops of the United States -- and all faithful Catholics in this country -- face a conflict with President Barack Obama and his administration that mirrors the conflict between Thomas More and Henry VIII.
The administration is seeking to coerce Catholics to act against their consciences on two fronts: on sterilization, contraceptives and abortion, and on the definition of marriage.
Obamacare regulations proposed by the Department of Health and Services on Aug. 1 would require every private health plan in America to cover sterilizations as well as all Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptives, including "emergency contraceptives." These include drugs such as ulipristal, which can cause abortions both before and after an embryo implants in a mother's womb.
If this regulation is finalized -- and the Obamacare mandate that every American must buy health insurance is not repealed -- every American Catholic with a conscience formed in keeping with the teachings of his church would be forced to choose between disobeying Obama's law or disobeying his conscience.