Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

1/23/2012 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

It is imperative that the entire Catholic community in the United States come to realize the grave threats to the Church's public moral witness

Grave threats to the Church's public moral witness presented by a radical secularism which finds increasing expression in the political and cultural spheres.The seriousness of these threats needs to be clearly appreciated at every level of ecclesial life. Of particular concern are certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of religion.

US Bishops meeting with Pope Benedict XVI

US Bishops meeting with Pope Benedict XVI

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

1/23/2012 (2 years ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Religious freedom, Ad Limina, US Bishops, Rome, human rights, religious liberty, Pope Benedict XVI, Deacon Keith Fournier


VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - In May of 2011, the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences gathered in Rome for its 17th annual plenary session. Its theme was "Universal Rights in a World of Diversity - The Case of Religious Freedom". The gathering reflected the deep concerns the Holy See has repeatedly expressed over growing threats to the fundamental human right to Religious Freedom.

He told the Pontifical Academy, "Since man enjoys the capacity for a free personal choice in truth, and since God expects of man a free response to his call, the right to religious freedom should be viewed as innate to the fundamental dignity of every human person, in keeping with the innate openness of the human heart to God. In fact, authentic freedom of religion will permit the human person to attain fulfillment and will thus contribute to the common good of society."

"Aware of the developments in culture and society, the Second Vatican Council proposed a renewed anthropological foundation to religious freedom. The Council Fathers stated that all people are "impelled by nature and also bound by our moral obligation to seek the truth, especially religious truth"

Only months into his pontificate, in December of 2005, the Pope told the Roman Curia: "The Second Vatican Council, recognizing and making its own an essential principle of the modern State with the Decree on Religious Freedom, has recovered the deepest patrimony of the Church. By so doing she can be conscious of being in full harmony with the teaching of Jesus himself (cf. Mt 22: 21), as well as with the Church of the martyrs of all time."

"The ancient Church naturally prayed for the emperors and political leaders out of duty (cf. I Tm 2: 2); but while she prayed for the emperors, she refused to worship them and thereby clearly rejected the religion of the State. The martyrs of the early Church died for their faith in that God who was revealed in Jesus Christ, and for this very reason they also died for freedom of conscience and the freedom to profess one's own faith - a profession that no State can impose but which, instead, can only be claimed with God's grace in freedom of conscience."

"A missionary Church known for proclaiming her message to all peoples must necessarily work for the freedom of the faith. She desires to transmit the gift of the truth that exists for one and all. At the same time, she assures peoples and their Governments that she does not wish to destroy their identity and culture by doing so, but to give them, on the contrary, a response which, in their innermost depths, they are waiting for - a response with which the multiplicity of cultures is not lost but instead unity between men and women increases and thus also peace between peoples."

His concern seems to be growing. On Thursday, January 19,2012, he addressed the Bishops of Region IV in the United States (Baltimore, Washington and the archdiocese for the Military Services) gathered fpor their ad limina visit. He warned of a "radical secularism which finds increasing expression in the political and cultural spheres". He warned the Bishops that the "seriousness of these threats needs to be clearly appreciated at every level of ecclesial life. Of particular concern are certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of religion."

Here is Pope Benedict XVI's Address to the US Bishops:

*****

"Dear Brother Bishops,

"I greet all of you with fraternal affection and I pray that this pilgrimage of spiritual renewal and deepened communion will confirm you in faith and commitment to your task as Pastors of the Church in the United States of America. As you know, it is my intention in the course of this year to reflect with you on some of the spiritual and cultural challenges of the new evangelization.

"One of the most memorable aspects of my Pastoral Visit to the United States was the opportunity it afforded me to reflect on America's historical experience of religious freedom, and specifically the relationship between religion and culture. At the heart of every culture - whether perceived or not -  is a consensus about the nature of reality and the moral good and thus about the conditions for human flourishing.

"In America, that consensus, as enshrined in your nation's founding documents, was grounded in a worldview shaped not only by faith but a commitment to certain ethical principles deriving from nature and nature's God. Today that consensus has eroded significantly in the face of powerful new cultural currents which are not only directly opposed to core moral teachings of the Judeo-Christian tradition, but increasingly hostile to Christianity as such.

"For her part, the Church in the United States is called, in season and out of season, to proclaim a Gospel which not only proposes unchanging moral truths but proposes them precisely as the key to human happiness and social prospering (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 10).

"To the extent that some current cultural trends contain elements that would curtail the proclamation of these truths, whether constricting it within the limits of a merely scientific rationality, or suppressing it in the name of political power or majority rule, they represent a threat not just to Christian faith, but also to humanity itself and to the deepest truth about our being and ultimate vocation, our relationship to God.

"When a culture attempts to suppress the dimension of ultimate mystery, and to close the doors to transcendent truth, it inevitably becomes impoverished and falls prey, as the late Pope John Paul II so clearly saw, to reductionist and totalitarian readings of the human person and the nature of society.

"With her long tradition of respect for the right relationship between faith and reason, the Church has a critical role to play in countering cultural currents which, on the basis of an extreme individualism, seek to promote notions of freedom detached from moral truth.

"Our tradition does not speak from blind faith, but from a rational perspective which links our commitment to building an authentically just, humane and prosperous society to our ultimate assurance that the cosmos is possessed of an inner logic accessible to human reasoning.

"The Church's defense of a moral reasoning based on the natural law is grounded on her conviction that this law is not a threat to our freedom, but rather a "language" which enables us to understand ourselves and the truth of our being, and so to shape a more just and humane world. She thus proposes her moral teaching as a message not of constraint but of liberation, and as the basis for building a secure future.

"The Church's witness, then, is of its nature public: she seeks to convince by proposing rational arguments in the public square. 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.

"In the light of these considerations, it is imperative that the entire Catholic community in the United States come to realize the grave threats to the Church's public moral witness presented by a radical secularism which finds increasing expression in the political and cultural spheres.

"The seriousness of these threats needs to be clearly appreciated at every level of ecclesial life. Of particular concern are certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of religion.

"Many of you have pointed out that concerted efforts have been made to deny the right of conscientious objection on the part of Catholic individuals and institutions with regard to cooperation in intrinsically evil practices. Others have spoken to me of a worrying tendency to reduce religious freedom to mere freedom of worship without guarantees of respect for freedom of conscience.

"Here once more we see the need for an engaged, articulate and well-formed Catholic laity endowed with a strong critical sense vis--vis the dominant culture and with the courage to counter a reductive secularism which would delegitimize the Church's participation in public debate about the issues which are determining the future of American society.

"The preparation of committed lay leaders and the presentation of a convincing articulation of the Christian vision of man and society remain a primary task of the Church in your country; as essential components of the new evangelization, these concerns must shape the vision and goals of catechetical programs at every level.

"In this regard, I would mention with appreciation your efforts to maintain contacts with Catholics involved in political life and to help them understand their personal responsibility to offer public witness to their faith, especially with regard to the great moral issues of our time: respect for God's gift of life, the protection of human dignity and the promotion of authentic human rights.

"As the Council noted, and I wished to reiterate during my Pastoral Visit, respect for the just autonomy of the secular sphere must also take into consideration the truth that there is no realm of worldly affairs which can be withdrawn from the Creator and his dominion (cfr. Gaudium et Spes, 36). There can be no doubt that a more consistent witness on the part of America's Catholics to their deepest convictions would make a major contribution to the renewal of society as a whole.

"Dear Brother Bishops, in these brief remarks I have wished to touch upon some of the pressing issues which you face in your service to the Gospel and their significance for the evangelization of American culture. No one who looks at these issues realistically can ignore the genuine difficulties which the Church encounters at the present moment.

"Yet in faith we can take heart from the growing awareness of the need to preserve a civil order clearly rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition, as well as from the promise offered by a new generation of Catholics whose experience and convictions will have a decisive role in renewing the Church's presence and witness in American society.

"The hope which these "signs of the times" give us is itself a reason to renew our efforts to mobilize the intellectual and moral resources of the entire Catholic community in the service of the evangelization of American culture and the building of the civilization of love."

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for September 2014
Mentally disabled:
That the mentally disabled may receive the love and help they need for a dignified life.
Service to the poor: That Christians, inspired by the Word of God, may serve the poor and suffering.



Comments


More U.S.

Wore out his welcome: Obama advocates withdrawing their support Watch

Image of A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll has yielded some most striking findings. The degree to which the president's approval has slipped among key parts of the Obama coalition, such as women, youth and Latino voters who put in him back in charge two years ago.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

U.S. President Barack Obama's support has been rapidly dwindling stateside. The president, in particular has alienated women voters, especially those who re-elected him in 2012. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "He's been faced with a lot of challenges, and ... continue reading


Values Voters: What We Can Learn from Ted Cruz Being Booed at the In Defense of Christians Conference Watch

Image of Senator Ted Cruz from Texas was the keynote speaker at what was billed as a Gala Solidarity Dinner. Sadly, it certainly did not demonstrate solidarity between Christians. A small group in the assembly, rudely and loudly, reacted negatively to some of the words Senator Cruz spoke as he expressed his convictions concerning the persecution taking place in this land which is properly holy, precisely because of its role in God's loving plan of salvation for the whole human race.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

The events of Wednesday, September 10, 2014, at the Inaugural In Defense of Christians Gala make abundantly clear that there is a serious and urgent need for values voters to meet and discuss the crisis in the Mideast and ways in which we can work together to ... continue reading


Democrats and Republicans stand together against the Islamic State at inaugural Christian summit Watch

Image of The Islamic State has continued to murder and persecute Christians in every region they have conquered, displacing millions.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

California representative Anna Eshoo (D.) spoke at a special summit called In Defense of Christians (IDC) on September 10, commenting on the continuing persecution and slaughter of Christians at the hands of Islamic extremists in the Middle East, specifically by ... continue reading


War? Congress and administration agree on conflict, argue over who declares it Watch

Image of President Obama's speech on September 10 outlined continued conflict against the Islamic State, and so far responses among Congress and within party lines have been mixed.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

During a live address to the nation on September 10, President Obama promised to destroy the Islamic State, functionally declaring war without the support or approval of Congress. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - This might be for the best, as a majority of ... continue reading


COMES TO LIGHT: Yahoo was threatened in 2008 with $250,000 daily fine if it didn't cooperate with NSA Watch

Image of Recently released documents, roughly 1,500 pages worth, outline a secret - and unsuccessful legal battle by Yahoo to resist the government's demands.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Would you capitulate if the United States government threatened to hit you with a quarter-of-a-million dollar DAILY fine if you didn't cooperate with them? Internet search engine Yahoo buckled to pressure back in 2008, and the dreaded National Security Agency ... continue reading


72-hour abortion wait period enacted in Missouri Watch

Image of Crowds gathered for rallies both in support and opposition of the legislation. Abortion rights activists wore purple shirts while abortion foes wore red. Both sides pointed to the personal experiences of women who had abortions.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Overriding a veto of legislation, Missouri lawmakers enacted a new law that requires women to wait 72 hours after consulting with a doctor before having an abortion. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The vote by Missouri's Republican-led legislature overrules ... continue reading


Feds take $100 million from cartel related businesses in California! Watch

Image of Federal officers seized $100 million from downtown Los Angeles businesses as part of an anti-cartel bust.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Federal officials announced that Los Angeles is now the nation's center for money laundering by international drug cartels, after a raid in downtown L.A. seized an estimated $100 million in cash and from bank accounts as part of an ongoing probe. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Patriot Day, September 11, 2014: Who Are We Becoming Thirteen Years After the Attack on Our Nation? Watch

Image of I will never forget when that cross emerged out of the rubble in the aftermath of the bombing of the World Trade Center by evil Islamist terrorists. We all knew it was a sign. Sadly, there was a lawsuit filed to attempt to remove images of that Cross from the National September 11 memorial and Museum in New York. It took an Appeals Court to stop that effort.That Cross, rising from the rubble, visually demonstrates the source of true freedom. It is time we got back to it.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

September 11, 2001 changed the United States of America. Every anniversary since is an existential moment, an invitation to reflect on who we are  becoming. The actions of those evil men and the heroic response of those ground zero heroes call us to such a ... continue reading


Security officials admit that Islamic State fighters could sneak through U.S.-Mexico border Watch

Image of The Islamic State has threatened to destroy the United States, and some analysts fear that the group could sneak fighters into the U.S. through the U.S.-Mexican border.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A senior Homeland Security official revealed to Congress that terrorist members of the Islamic State are planning to enter the United States, via the U.S.-Mexican border. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Francis Taylor, the under secretary for the Department of ... continue reading


California becomes second state to guarantee paid sick leave Watch

Image of California's governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that grants hourly employees paid sick leave. The bill will come into effect in July of 2015.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The state of California has extended paid sick leave to millions of workers who would not normally have access to it, making it the largest expansion of its kind to date. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - California's Democratic governor, Jerry Brown signed the ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Numbers 21:4-9
4 They left Mount Hor by the road to the Sea of Suph, ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 78:1-2, 34-35, 36-37, 38
1 [Psalm Of Asaph] My people, listen to my teaching, ... Read More

Gospel, John 3:13-17
13 No one has gone up to heaven except the one who ... Read More

Reading 2, Philippians 2:6-11
6 Who, being in the form of God, did not count ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 14th, 2014 Image

St. Notburga
September 14: Patroness of poor peasants and servants in the Tyrol. Born in ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter