Archbishop Lori: Be Loyal Americans by Being Bold and Courageous Catholics
We uphold religious liberty because we seek to continue serving those in need while contributing to the common good
We do not seek to defend religious liberty for partisan or political purposes, as some have suggested. No, we do this because we are lovers of a human dignity that was fashioned and imparted not by the government but by the Creator. We defend religious liberty because we are lovers of every human person, seeing in the face of every man and woman also the face of Christ, who loved us to the very end and who calls on us to love and serve our neighbor with the same love he has bestowed on us.
Religious faith and the values informed by faith serve and promote the common good. Religious freedom is a fundamental and basic human right which must be secured and protected by law in truly free Nations. Rightly understood and applied, religious freedom means a freedom for religious expression; not a removal of such expression from public places. Here are several excerpts from Archbishop Lori's installation homily which makes our challenge crystal clear: "We have just heard how St. Paul preached the Gospel in the Areopagus of Athens, the ultimate public square, in the height of the Roman Empire. Paul did not hesitate to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ into that place where ideas that mattered were discussed and debated. By pointing to the altar to an unknown God Paul sought to make connections between the culture of the Athenians and the Gospel. But never did it occur to St. Paul to present the Gospel as mere ideas, as an alternative philosophy." "Rather, in that very public square St. Paul preached Christ crucified and risen as the source of life itself, of meaning, and of salvation. His words were met with skepticism and even ridicule yet among those who heard him, some came to be believe." "Few people in history went to more Areopagai than did Pope John Paul II as he travelled the length and breadth of the globe proclaiming the Gospel of Christ, as indeed his successor, Pope Benedict, XVI, continues to do. In so doing they are teaching me, they are teaching us all how important it is not only to bring the Gospel into the public square but indeed to defend the right to do so, not for ourselves and for all believers. Standing in this Cathedral, Blessed Pope John Paul II said: "The challenge facing you, dear friends, is to increase people's awareness of the importance for society of religious freedom; to defend that freedom against those who would take religion out of the public domain and establish secularism as America's official faith. And it is vitally necessary, for the very survival of the American experience, to transmit to the next generation the precious legacy of religious freedom and the convictions which sustain it." "When the bishops from this Mid-Atlantic region recently visited Pope Benedict XVI, he too spoke forcefully about the need to defend religious liberty in the United States: "With her long tradition of respect for the right relationship between faith and reason, the Church," he said, "has a critical role to play in countering cultural currents, which . . . seek to promote notions of freedom detached from moral truth. . ." 'He went on to say that "the legitimate separation of Church and State cannot be taken to mean that the Church must be silent on certain issues, nor that the State may choose not to engage or be engaged by the voices of committed believers in determining the values which will shape the future of the nation." "We do not seek to defend religious liberty for partisan or political purposes, as some have suggested. No, we do this because we are lovers of a human dignity that was fashioned and imparted not by the government but by the Creator. We defend religious liberty because we are lovers of every human person, seeing in the face of every man and woman also the face of Christ, who loved us to the very end and who calls on us to love and serve our neighbor with the same love he has bestowed on us." "We uphold religious liberty because we seek to continue serving those in need while contributing to the common good in accord with the Church's social teaching and to do so with compassion and effectiveness through Catholic Charities, the largest private provider of human services in the State of Maryland." "We do this because Archbishop John Carroll's generation of believers and patriots bequeathed to us a precious legacy that has enabled the Church to worship in freedom, to bear witness to Christ publicly, and to do massive and amazing works of pastoral love, education, and charity in ways that are true to the faith that inspired them in the first place." "We defend religious liberty in fidelity to the wisdom of James Cardinal Gibbons who withstood in the breach those who said it wasn't possible to be a practicing Catholic and a loyal American. "...I belong to a country," he said, "where the civil government holds over us the aegis of its protection, without interfering with us in the legitimate exercise of our sublime mission as ministers of the Gospel of Christ. Our country has liberty without license, and authority without despotism." Now we must be loyal Americans by being bold and courageous Catholics!" "So, dear friends, let us be of good cheer. Let us never imagine that the faith we profess with such personal conviction is merely a private matter. By its nature, the profession of faith is a public matter -for the faith is meant to be spread far and wide and acted upon in and through Church institutions and in the witness of individual believers. " "Let us not shrink from entering the public square to proclaim the Person of Christ, to teach the values that flow from reason and faith, to uphold our right to go about our daily work in accord with our teachings & values, to defend the sanctity of human life from the moment of conception until natural death, to defend the institution of marriage as between a man and a woman, and to serve effectively those in great need with convictions borne of the moral law." The Bishop's clarion call to defend religious liberty deserves a clear response from all of us. Let us take up the task which this homily calls us to with every ounce of energy we have. We are loyal Americans when we are bold and Courageous Catholics in the Public Square.
© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lordís invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.
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