Saturday, June 23, 2012

Fortnight for Freedom - 2

     As we continue now in the fourth day of this “Fortnight for Freedom” I trust that all of you have prayed daily in some way for the preservation of religious freedom in our country.  As Pope Benedict XVI has said, if the freedom to practice one’s religion can be curtailed in the United States, where can it NOT be curtailed to the point of being relegated to a ghetto or to some merely nice sense on the level of feelings or nostalgia?
     One of the issues that needs to be confronted head-on is the idea that this is about the Catholic Church desperately trying to hang on to some sort of sense of power or authority, particularly over our organs of civil governance.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Others would frame this as the Church trying to force people to do what She would judge to be moral in our free society.  This would also be a false reading of the situation (usually by those who want to force us into complicity with their acts of sinfulness).  There are those who would say that the Church is unduly partisan and, having lost the contraception fight with the President, are merely trying to muscle him out of office.  Finally, there are those who howl about the separation of Church and State – another canard.
     The truth of the matter is that the bishops tried very hard to work with the President on putting together a universal healthcare plan that would be truly workable for everybody.  The truth is also that at as this issue was developing, at the beginning of his term, President Obama assured the bishops, in a personal meeting at the White House, that he had great admiration for the work of the Church in our society and that he would do nothing that would make us compromise the work that we were doing or our faith.  Cardinal Dolan reminded him of that in a later phone call and, sadly, he had nothing to say.
     As Cardinal Dolan has said on a number of occasions, we did not pick this fight, we did not pick the timing of this fight, nor did we pick the battle ground over which this fight began.  Secular newspaper editorials across the spectrum have recognized that it was the administration that chose the fight, the timing, and the ground over which it would be fought.  The Church is merely refusing to back down, which is what we were universally expected to do.  Well, the time has come, the moment is here – to fight for freedom lest we lose this first freedom and discover to our horror that it is only the first of our cherished, constitutional freedoms to be lost.
     This is why our prayers and acts of abstinence and fasting are so very important!  It is always good to write letters to government officials and to talk of these things with our friends and neighbors.  However, at the end of the day, our freedoms are protected not by a president or congress or even the Supreme Court, but by our fidelity to almighty God who is the true author of these freedoms which the president and the congress have been tasked with defending in the political order by our Constitution.  It is important that a free people be clear about their freedoms and the responsibility that it lays on them in both living and defending them.  So…
Pray Well!

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