Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Fortnight Preparations

     Religious Freedom is spoken of a great deal these days, globally as well as within our nation.  The upcoming Fortnight For Freedom proposed by our bishops that is set to begin this week is a timely reflection upon the issue, which is very real.  But it is not a new issue.  From day one of the Church, faith and politics, freedoms and persecution, rights and coercion have been in conflict.  John the Baptist spoke a word of truth that made him a thorn in the side of the King.  Peter and Paul experienced it in the leadership roles in the early Church.  Those who suffered at the hands of Nero (the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome) were politically expendable for Nero to get what he wanted.  Bishop John Fisher and Sir Thomas More could not compromise their faith with their loyalty to Henry VIII, and lost their heads.  Thomas More said something like: I am the king's loyal subject always, but God's first.

     In 1965 the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council issued a Declaration on Religious Freedom (Dignitatis Humanae) that addressed the issue.  Much of what the U.S. Bishops are reflecting upon is rooted in that teaching document.  Readings from it as well as reflections on it can be found on the web page of the United States Bishops Conference, and are worth the read  [ www.nccbussc.org ].  I will share some thoughts in the days to come.

     The Fathers of the Council declared that every human person has the right to religious freedom.  Its foundation is rooted in the very dignity of the human person since we are created in the image and likeness of God.  Like God we are intelligent beings with a free will.  This is revealed by the Word of God and by reason itself.  The Council Fathers say that this right to religious freedom is to be recognized in the constitutional law whereby society is governed.  Thus it becomes a civil right. 

     We hold that civil right to be guaranteed to us by the law of this land.  And yet, there are moments and movements that seem to undermine those rights and threaten our freedom to be who we are, faithful citizens who can, like Thomas More, say that we are loyal to the state, always, but to God first.  We cannot be subjected to the role of second class citizens who are ignored because of what we believe or to whom our first loyalty is given.

This Thursday evening at 7:30 pm
The Fortnight For Freedom
in the Diocese of Greensburg
will begin with a Holy Hour
at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral.
All are invited to attend.

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