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Rejoice! Bishop William Lori, Defender of the Faith, Named Archbishop-Designate of Baltimore

By Deacon Keith Fournier
March 21st, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

This Nation which we all love has been given one more courageous Catholic Bishop in a position of significant leadership at a critical time in the history of the Catholic Church in the United States. Pray for Archbishop-designate William Lori. Pray for all of our Bishops. Pray for the United States of America. And, Rejoice in the Lord, he is watching over his Church.

BALTIMORE,MD (Catholic Online) - I have followed the courageous leadership of Bishop William Lori for years. He is a faithful and inspiring shepherd of the Catholic Church. He is also a heroic defender of religious freedom, marriage and life at a critical time in our Nation's history.

We must face the facts, the first freedom, religious freedom, is under assault in the United States of America - and the Catholic Church is increasingly threatened in her mission. I was among the many who were thrilled when the Bishops of the United States selected Bishop Lori to Chair their Committee for Religious Liberty.
 
On Wednesday, October 26, 2011 the Bishop gave testimony before the Judiciary Committee of the United States House of Representatives, Subcommittee on the Constitution. He articulated the teaching of the Catholic Church - as well as the constitutional law of the United States - with clarity and conviction. It should be studied by all of us as engage in the Catholic Action precipitated by the Obama Administrations' unconstitutional HHS mandate. Here are a few excerpts:

"Religious liberty is not merely one right among others, but enjoys a certain primacy. As the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI recently explained: "It is indeed the first of human rights, not only because it was historically the first to be recognized but also because it touches the constitutive dimension of man, his relation with his Creator." (Pope Benedict XVI, Address to Diplomatic Corps, 10 Jan. 2011.)"

"The late Pope John Paul II taught that "the most fundamental human freedom [is] that of practicing one's faith openly, which for human beings is their reason for living." (Pope John Paul II, Address to Diplomatic Corps, 13 Jan. 1996, No. 9.) Not coincidentally, religious liberty is first on the list in the Bill of Rights, the charter of our Nation's most cherished and fundamental freedoms."

"The First Amendment begins: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.." It is commonly, and with justice, called our "First Freedom."

"Religious liberty is also prior to the state itself. It is not merely a privilege that the government grants us and so may take away at will. Instead, religious liberty is inherent in our very humanity, hard-wired into each and every one of us by our Creator. Thus government has a perennial obligation to acknowledge and protect religious liberty as fundamental, no matter the moral and political trends of the moment."

"This insight as well is reflected in the laws and traditions of our country from its very inception. The Declaration of Independence boldly proclaimed as a self-evident truth that our inalienable rights are "endowed by our Creator"-not by the State"

"Religious freedom is most commonly understood as an individual right, and it certainly is that. ...But religious freedom also belongs to churches and other religious institutions, comprised of citizens who are believers and who seek, not to create a theocracy, but rather to influence their culture from within.

"The distinction between Church and State, between God and Caesar, remains "fundamental to Christianity" (Pope Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est, No. 28). We look to the State not to impose religion but to guarantee religious freedom, and to promote harmony among followers of different religions."

"The Church has "a proper independence and is structured on the basis of her faith as a community the State must recognize" (Ibid.). An indispensable element of this independence is the right of churches "not to be hindered, either by legal measures or by administrative action on the part of government, in the selection, training, appointment, and transferral of their own ministers" (Second Vatican Council, Dignitatis Humanae, No. 4)"

"The United States stands strongly for the principle that these rights of freedom are also rights of equality-that government should not impose any special civil disadvantages or otherwise discriminate against its citizens based on religion. And although it may not have always lived up to this or other religious freedom principles in practice, our country's unique capacity for self-correction has always provided avenues to repair to these principles that have made it a great nation."

On Wednesday February 16, 2012, Bishop Lori again gave testimony before Congress. It was necessitated by the ongoing unwillingness of the Obama Administration to respect the fundamental Right to Religious Freedom. This time he appeared before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform of the United States House of Representatives. The Bishop's testimony was brilliant and can be read here

On Tuesday, March 20, 2012, this good and courageous Bishop was presented in the Nation's first Cathedral, the Basilica of the Assumption, as Pope Benedict XVI's choice to serve as the Archbishop of Baltimore, the Nation's oldest Diocese. He will be installed on May 16, 2012.

Shortly after the announcement he was the homilist at the Mass which takes place daily at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He gave an inspiring homily on the readings of the day which emphasized the living waters of the Holy Spirit, the "great river of God's life" which flow through the Sacraments and  bring healing to and through the Church, enabling her to continue the redemptive mission of the Lord.

Bishop William Lori is a highly regarded theologian and teacher of the faith. He is also known to be a man of deep prayer and personal warmth - which endears him to the faithful under his pastoral care. The people of the Archdiocese of Baltimore and the greater Washington D.C. area are once again blessed with an outstanding Shepherd of the Church.

And, this Nation which we all love has been given one more courageous Catholic Bishop in a position of significant leadership at a critical time in the history of the Catholic Church in the United States. Pray for Archbishop-designate Lori. Pray for all of our Bishops. Pray for the United States of America. And, Rejoice in the Lord, He is watching over His Church.

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