Friday, July 06, 2012

Reflections on the Fornight for Freedom

In the 14 days leading up to July 4th, American Catholics and many others who are concerned about religious freedom participated in the "Fortnight for Freedom," a campaign of prayer and teaching in support of religious freedom.

The campaign was kicked off in response to the Obama administration's new regulation forcing all employers including religious institutions such as schools and hospitals to pay for contraceptives, and chemical abortions for their employees. But as Dwight G. Duncan (not Ontario's Finance Minister) noted, there are numerous signs that religious liberty is being threatened world wide:
Now we are implicated in this battle over the HHS mandate concerning contraceptives, abortion-inducing drugs, and sterilization. It could’ve been another flashpoint. Denmark, for example, has just passed a law requiring the official state Lutheran church to solemnize same-sex weddings. In Ireland, the government is seriously proposing to abolish the centuries-old priest-penitent privilege, thus enabling the government to force priests to violate the sacred seal of confession, something that has been well-settled in the common law since the days of Henry II and St. Thomas Becket. In Nigeria, in what seems like a weekly ritual, Christians are being killed for attending church.
It's an incomplete list to be sure. Ontario Catholic schools will now be forced to sponsor gay clubs for students, and a German judge has just declared it a crime to circumcise a child.

Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia kicked off the campaign with an excellent explanation of situation that was neatly summarized by Frank Weathers:
1. First, religious freedom is a cornerstone of the American experience.

2. Freedom of religion is more than freedom of worship.

3. Threats against religious freedom in our country are not imaginary. They’re happening right now. They’re immediate, serious, and real.
4. Unless we work hard to keep our religious liberty, we’ll lose it.
5. Politics and the courts are important. But our religious freedom ultimately depends on the vividness of our own Christian faith–in other words, how deeply we believe it, and how honestly we live it.
It's true, we must live our faith and not shy away from expressing its principles in public if we want to keep our freedom and contribute to a just and vibrant society.
Archbishop Chaput also gave an inspiring homily to close the fortnight:
In coming years, we’ll face more and more serious challenges to religious liberty in our country. This is why the Fortnight for Freedom has been so very important.

And yet, the political and legal effort to defend religious liberty – as vital as it is – belongs to a much greater struggle to master and convert our own hearts, and to live for God completely, without alibis or self-delusion. The only question that finally matters is this one: Will we live wholeheartedly for Jesus Christ? If so, then we can be a source of freedom for the world. If not, nothing else will do.
And so we have been called to "live wholeheartedly for Jesus" so that "we can be a source of freedom for the world." I pray that I can follow that call by taking every opportunity to defend religious liberty and by living faithfully so that I can be a credible witness.

I hope that a similar effort can take place in Canada in the near future.


Anonymous said...

Which explains why more than 80% of catholic women in the US are already on birth control of their own accord to begin with, right?

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