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!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Fortnight for Freedom

Today begins the "Fortnight for Freedom" called for by the bishops of the United States.  I hope that all will join in this VERY important effort in: 1) Raising the awareness of Catholics and others of good-will as to the true and full meaning of "religious freedom"; 2) Galvanizing support in the Church's efforts to curb the constant attacks on the freedom of religion in this country, so that; 3) Helping the United States to again become a country that not only respects true religious freedom, and benefits by the actions of those motivated by the faith in God for the betterment of society, but also advocates for religious freedom abroad.
The bishops have a web-site which will be helpful in celebrating the Fortnight for Freedom.  You might also appreciate reading this column entitled: "How Religion Fosters Freedom" by Colleen Carroll Campbell, an excellent editorial writer from St. Louis, MO.  Of course, Cardinal Dolan, now president of the US Bishop's Conference, always has worthwhile points to make as does our own Bishop William Patrick Callahan.  Check them all out, but most importantly, pray, vote, stand up and be counted!

Prayer for the Protection of Religious Liberty

O God our Creator,
Through the power and working of your Holy Spirit,
you call us to live out our faith in the midst of the world,
bringing the light and the saving truth of the Gospel
to every corner of society.
We ask you to bless us
in our vigilance for the gift of religious liberty.
Give us the strength of mind and heart
to readily defend our freedoms when they are threatened;
give us courage in making our voices heard
on behalf of the rights of your Church
and the freedom of conscience of all people of faith.
Grant, we pray, O heavenly Father,
a clear and united voice to all your sons and daughters
gathered in your Church
in this decisive hour in the history of our nation,
so that, with every trial withstood 
                                                     and every danger overcome—
                                                     for the sake of our children, our grandchildren,
                                                     and all who come after us—
                                                     this great land will always be "one nation, under God,
                                                     indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
                                                     We ask this through Christ our Lord.