The first Sunday of the historic Fortnight for Freedom campaign saw priests and bishops throughout the country preaching on the meaning and importance of religious liberty in the U.S.
The campaign had a brilliant kick-off at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption in Baltimore on June 21 when the Most Reverend William E. Lori, Archbishop of Baltimore, extolled the congregation during his homily to remember the sacrifice of Sts. Thomas More and John Fisher who preferred to be beheaded rather than violate their consciences.
“Their courageous witness of faith continues to stir the minds and hearts of people yearning for authentic freedom, and specifically, for religious freedom,” the bishop said.
“On August 1st, less than six weeks from now, the Health and Human Services mandate will go into effect. This will force conscientious private employers to violate their consciences by funding and facilitating through their employee health insurance plans reproductive “services” that are morally objectionable . . . . Friends, we must never allow the government – any government, at any time, of any party – to impose such a constrictive definition on our beloved Church or any church! . . . . This is why the Church has engaged the Administration so earnestly, this is why we are working for legislative protection from the Congress, this is why, thankfully, so many have filed lawsuits in various parts of the country, and this is why there is a Fortnight for Freedom—so that the Church would be free of that government interference which St. John Fisher warned against in the British Parliament in the 16th century.”
A few days later, on the feast of yet another great Christian martyr, St. John the Baptist, priests throughout the country were delivering powerful homilies on the importance of the sacred right to religious freedom.
For instance, Breitbart is reporting that one priest from a Byzantine Catholic Church told his flock: “[T]oday, in this country, our precious right to freedom of religion is under attack by members of the very government sworn to defend it. This is a decisive moment in America. That is why the Catholic Bishops of the United States are committed to focusing ‘all the energies the Catholic community can muster’ on the defense of religious liberty.”
A priest in one southern California church went so far as to compare the unnamed leader of the “current Administration” with King Herod in the context of the beheading of St. John the Baptist and with King Henry VIII who ordered the beheading of St. Thomas More.
This writer attended a Mass at Queenship of Mary (formerly Our Lady of Hungary) church in Northampton, Pennsylvania during which the homilist spoke about the dangers of complacency on such matters as religious freedom. He made his point by reminding the congregation of the belief of Fascist dictators such as Benito Mussolini that governments can convince the people to relinquish their freedoms simply by offering them a job, a pension, and health care.
Readers of Father Zuhlsdorf’s popular blog, What Does the Prayer Really Say, shared the many inspiring homilies they heard on Sunday. For instance, a commenter named Steve Fuquay wrote: “Father spoke passionately about all of us being ‘the voice in the wilderness’ during this time of persecution (HHS mandate and other infringements to religious liberty). We should not remain silent during this critical time. Our voices need to be ONE, following our bishops. Very moving sermon and from the heart.”
Another writer named “Supertradmum” said that in addition to hearing the best sermon of her life on the importance of traditional marriage, the homilist at her Mass preached about how the Sadducees and Pharisees disagreed with how to deal with the civil government when it came to the issue of John the Baptist.
“The Sadducees compromised to get along with Rome, much as many compromising Catholics are doing today, said the priest. He went on to emphasize that we must be willing, like John the Baptist, to stand up for the truth to civil authority and never compromise the Catholic Faith. Bravo, bravo. I have not heard such a strong message to such a large and prominent congregation for a long time.”
As important as these homilies were, they would be little more than a noisy gong without action to back up the words.
As Breitbart’s Susan Swift points out, “these calls to prayer are backed up with plenty of real world action in the impending ‘legal Armageddon’ against the HHS mandate filed by 43 religious entities (and largely ignored by the mainstream media). Chicago’s Bishop Cardinal George has threatened that the Church may have to close all its doors–church, school, hospital and more–rather than comply with the HHS mandate. That would put untold numbers of people out of work, on the streets and barred from Catholic works of charity (soup kitchens, hospitals, etc)–in an election year, no less.”
She adds: “It is no small irony that Catholic bishops are calling for a religious battle in defense against a president who is leading a column of big government secular crusaders marching against religious freedom.”
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