St. Joseph Catholic Church - Toledo, OH

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June 24, 2012 - Fortnight for Freedom

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-We celebrate the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, who said “He must increase, I must decrease.”

-The United States Conference of Catholic bishops launched two days ago an effort called “Fortnight for Freedom” to educate Catholics and the public at large about the issue of religious freedom as the church teaches it, and as it is enshrined in the Bill of Rights of our nation's Constitution. Catholics are to fast, pray and take action in their own sphere of responsibility to further that principle. Fortnight for Freedom runs through July 4th, Independence Day.

-Somebody could be mistaken that this effort to focus on the religious freedom of the human person is actually some type of focus on “me”.... making sure that each person can do what he or she wants… but this is far from the case with the Fortnight for Freedom's emphasis on religious freedom.

-The goal is not helping us do what we want to do; rather, it is making sure we are free to do what we believe God is asking of us. It actually falls within the scope of obedience to God, not selfish personal whim.

-In every sphere of responsibility in life, we should be saying with John the Baptist, “he must increase, I must decrease.” It is about letting him be Lord of our life… and faced with the present scenario where the government is trying to force something upon us that is contrary to what we know to be God's design for the human person, it is about letting the powers that be know that they must let God be God… and they cannot restrict a freedom that he desires for us…

-in the diocese's most recent Mass for religious freedom, our own Bishop Blair described a conversation in which a young Chinese man told about an uncle, a priest, who had fled to the United States as a young seminarian when China fell to the Communists in 1949… that his home village once had a beautiful little church that the communist government eventually destroyed… Such stories seem so foreign to us… but the climate in the United States is changing… we used to be a refuge for people seeking religious freedom… indeed, we were founded by people seeking religious freedom… but this is becoming less the case

-Bishop Blair: “In an absolutely unprecedented way the federal government is demanding that, individually and corporately, we act against our consciences, against the teachings of our faith.” At large in society today, people claim the right to redefine morality and God-given truths about the human person, but we must remain firm in Christian moral teaching that is as old as Christianity itself, teaching that prohibits us from facilitating or providing sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs and contraception.

-Bishop Blair: “The Catholic Church is also being driven out of federally funded humanitarian services for the victims of human trafficking because we will not provide or refer women for contraceptives and abortion services. The church is being driven out of adoption services, thus far in Boston, San Francisco, the District of Columbia and the state of Illinois. Why? Because we will not place children with same-sex or unmarried opposite-sex couples who cohabitate, because we believe that a real marriage with the father and mother is a proper home for a child.”

-Bishop Blair: “ In Alabama state law now makes it illegal for a priest to baptize undocumented immigrants, to hear the confessions or confer on them the sacrament of the sick.” [Catholics can argue about the various privileges granted to illegal aliens from a political perspective… but there is still a duty to care for the soul of any human person by such means as confession and other sacraments]

-Bishop Blair: “In Connecticut a judiciary committee of the state legislature tried to force a civil restructuring of Catholic parishes to conform to a congregational model that is contrary to the Catholic faith. In California a religious student group is excluded from recognition by a state university only because, as a religious group, it limits its leadership positions to those who share the group's religion.” [The same phenomenon is occurring with a Catholic student group at a University in Nashville]

-the point in all of this is that the climate is changing in the United States of America… so that religious freedom is no longer considered a God-given right… and therefore, in order to live out “He must increase, I must decrease”, we must struggle to maintain our duty to live according to God's design for the human person…

-You understand the problem with the HHS contraception Mandate: since the contraception mandate involves only the secular sphere–in the thinking of some governmental powers that be–churches ought not to be upset. But that is a very shallow and restricted view of religion. We do not live our faith simply for one hour on Sundays. Everything we do in life is supposed to give him glory, and we are to do nothing contrary to God's laws in any sphere of life. Another way to say it would be, “there is for us no merely secular sphere of life that does not pertain to God somehow”. Always and everywhere Catholics are to ask what it is that would most glorify God. Although a small parish which hires only Catholics might get around the mandate, what about a Catholic who owns a business with full-time employees who get health benefits? He has always run his business in a way that would most glorify God, helping all of his clientele accordingly. He has always supported his employees in a like manner. Now he's being forced to cover abortion-causing contraceptives by means of required health care coverage. Now he is stuck: he must choose between God's law and an unjust government law…

-May the Lord give us wisdom and courage as we struggle for a very basic God-given right: that of living for him in every sphere of life.

- The source of that wisdom and courage is here at the altar of sacrifice, where the Son of God meets us, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity....


From the Catechism of the Catholic Church

The social duty of religion and the right to religious freedom

2104 "All men are bound to seek the truth, especially in what concerns God and his Church, and to embrace it and hold on to it as they come to know it."26 This duty derives from "the very dignity of the human person."27 It does not contradict a "sincere respect" for different religions which frequently "reflect a ray of that truth which enlightens all men,"28 nor the requirement of charity, which urges Christians "to treat with love, prudence and patience those who are in error or ignorance with regard to the faith."29

2105 The duty of offering God genuine worship concerns man both individually and socially. This is "the traditional Catholic teaching on the moral duty of individuals and societies toward the true religion and the one Church of Christ."30 By constantly evangelizing men, the Church works toward enabling them "to infuse the Christian spirit into the mentality and mores, laws and structures of the communities in which [they] live."31 The social duty of Christians is to respect and awaken in each man the love of the true and the good. It requires them to make known the worship of the one true religion which subsists in the Catholic and apostolic Church.32 Christians are called to be the light of the world. Thus, the Church shows forth the kingship of Christ over all creation and in particular over human societies.33

2106 "Nobody may be forced to act against his convictions, nor is anyone to be restrained from acting in accordance with his conscience in religious matters in private or in public, alone or in association with others, within due limits."34 This right is based on the very nature of the human person, whose dignity enables him freely to assent to the divine truth which transcends the temporal order. For this reason it "continues to exist even in those who do not live up to their obligation of seeking the truth and adhering to it."35

2107 "If because of the circumstances of a particular people special civil recognition is given to one religious community in the constitutional organization of a state, the right of all citizens and religious communities to religious freedom must be recognized and respected as well."36

2108 The right to religious liberty is neither a moral license to adhere to error, nor a supposed right to error,37 but rather a natural right of the human person to civil liberty, i.e., immunity, within just limits, from external constraint in religious matters by political authorities. This natural right ought to be acknowledged in the juridical order of society in such a way that it constitutes a civil right.38

2109 The right to religious liberty can of itself be neither unlimited nor limited only by a "public order" conceived in a positivist or naturalist manner.39 The "due limits" which are inherent in it must be determined for each social situation by political prudence, according to the requirements of the common good, and ratified by the civil authority in accordance with "legal principles which are in conformity with the objective moral order."40


26 DH 1 § 2.?

27 DH 2 § 1.?

28 NA 2 § 2.?

29 DH 14 § 4. ?

30 DH 1 § 3.?

31 AA 13 § 1.?

32 Cf. DH 1.?

33 Cf. AA 13; Leo XIII, Immortale Dei 3,17; Pius XI, Quas primas 8,20. ?

34 DH 2 § 1.?

35 DH 2 § 2.?

36 DH 6 § 3.?

37 Cf. Leo XIII, Libertas praestantissimum 18; Pius XII AAS 1953,799.?

38 Cf. DH 2.?

39 Cf. Pius VI, Quod aliquantum (1791) 10; Pius IX, Quanta cura 3.?

40 DH 7 § 3.


Iustus germinabit sicut lilium: et florebit in aeternum ante Dominum.
-- Gospel Acclamation, Solemnity of St. Joseph, March 19

Eucharistic Quotes

"The greatest love story of all times is contained in a tiny white Host."

--Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen



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