Libertas leader Declan Ganley firmly posted his colours to the Christian and pro-life culture mast at a family conference in Ballaghaderreen, Co Roscommon during the weekend. Strongly affirming his personal commitment to the Catholic faith the Tuam-based founder of the No to Lisbon campaign group said that in Ireland and in Europe today, ‘’there is a desperate need to heal the flaws inflicting modernity, to end a dictatorship of relativism and to put the person, her rights, and her needs, back at the heart of the political agenda.’ Speaking at the Abbey Field Hotel before 350 people, late on Saturday he said, ‘My faith in God is not a threat to my neighbour, In fact my faith in God is my neighbour’s best guarantor of his safety and freedom.’ Declan Ganley added there was a need for those sharing a belief that “man is the crown of creation and not some parasitic presence on this earth’ to stand up and defend those beliefs. Over a wide ranging speech, frequently quoting Pope Benedict XVI, he said “Our Holy Father teaches us that once society does not treat every life as precious and inviolable from conception to natural death then man becomes a product subjected to ‘pragmatism’ and utilitarianism’ such that abortion, euthanasia, and the destruction of human life are promoted as false rights and choices.’ He called on people at the meeting organised by the lay-based John Paul II Society, to commit to ‘no longer apologising for our beliefs. To unabashedly love our Lord, love our neighbour and to be prepared to sacrifice and serve.’ Making reference to the sustaining effect that religious faith had on previous generations, particularly in times of hardship, he added that was a need that ‘public figures should never to afraid to speak of their faith, their beliefs and their values.’ Also addressing the conference, entitled ‘Render Unto Caesar: Personal Faith and Public Duty’ was the internationally known Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Denver who asked listeners to be ‘vigourous and unembarrassed about our Catholic presence in society.’ Archbishop Chaput, who is half-American Indian stressed the importance of individual integrity and called on people to give public witness to what they believed in their family, workplace and also in the way they vote. Saying that while Christians ‘owe secular leaders our respect and prayers; respect for the law; obedience to proper authority; and service to the common good,’ this was not to be confused with ‘subservience, or silence, or inaction, or excuse-making or acquiescence to grave evil in the public life we all share.’ Declan Ganley’s Libertas group recently applied for status and funding as a pan-European political party to the European Parliament. Affirming his will to vote NO at the next Lisbon referendum, he suggested that the politician declarations being talked about on Lisbon ‘ won’t be worth the paper they are written on’. In a question and answer session he remained, he said, very pro-European and strongly opposed to euroscepticism. It has been speculated in recent months that Ganley wishes to run for the Connacht-Ulster constituency in the next-European Parliament election, but at the Roscommon conference, he refused to confirm whether he would be running or not. See report and hear audio from the Irish Times here and here.