Archbishop Lori: Church must remain 'obstacle' to fully secular culture
Pictured: A member of the clergy holds a program during the opening Mass for the U.S. bishops' "fortnight for freedom" campaign at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore June 21. The two-week period will empha size church teaching on religious freedom. (CNS photo/Tom McCarthy Jr., Catholic Review)
BALTIMORE — On the eve of the feast day of St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher, Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori held up the two martyrs as a source of inspiration for American Catholics during a Mass June 21 launching the U.S. bishops' much-anticipated "fortnight for freedom."
"Their courageous witness of faith continues to stir the minds and hearts of people yearning for authentic freedom, and specifically, for religious freedom," he said.
With the hope of drawing greater attention to the weakening of religious freedoms in America, the U.S. bishops called for the fortnight for freedom, which lasts through July 4, to be 14 days dedicated to prayer, education and public action.
According to the parish's sacristan, more than 1,000 people from Maryland, the District of Columbia and surrounding states attended the 7 p.m. Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore, which Archbishop Lori called "a monument to religious freedom."
The basilica was America's first Catholic cathedral, commissioned at the turn of the 19th century by America's first Catholic archbishop, John Carroll of Baltimore.
Archbishop Lori celebrated the Mass with Cardinal Edwin F. O'Brien, grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem and former archbishop of Baltimore; Baltimore Auxiliary Bishops Mitchell T. Rozanski and Denis J. Madden; and about 65 priests.
In a homily that received a standing ovation, Archbishop Lori described the integrity St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher demonstrated as the king asked them to violate their personal consciences, calling the men symbols of two "inseparably linked" aspects of religious freedom -- the freedom of individuals and the freedom of institutions.
The two men were martyred separately in 1535 for refusing to sign the Act of Supremacy, which repudiated papal authority and acknowledged the king of England as head of the church.
Archbishop Lori presented St. Thomas More -- a devout Catholic, husband, father and lawyer -- as a symbol of the individual's religious freedom, and St. John Fisher -- bishop of Rochester in Kent -- as a symbol of the religious freedom of institutions, many of which were destroyed or forced to break ties with the Catholic Church in the wake of England's upheaval.
"If we fail to defend the rights of individuals, the freedom of institutions will be at risk, and if we fail to defend the rights of our institutions, individual liberty will be at risk," he said. "More needs Fisher, and Fisher needs More."
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops called for the fortnight in March in their Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty's statement, "Our First, Most Cherished Liberty." Archbishop Lori is chairman of the committee.
The statement outlined several instances of "religious liberty under attack." Foremost among the U.S. bishops' concerns is the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services mandate that employers, including most religious ones, provide insurance coverage for contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs, which Catholic teaching considers "morally objectionable."
The mandate goes into effect Aug. 1 for most employers, including private employers who object to providing contraception coverage. The mandate is scheduled to take effect for church-related institutions in 2013. The U.S. Supreme Court was expected to deliver a decision on the health reform law's constitutionality by the end of June.
Since the mandate was announced in February, the bishops have also expressed concern about its "narrow" definition of church as a body which mostly hires and serves its own members, and exists to advance its own teachings -- excluding faith-based universities, charities, hospitals and other institutions that seek to serve the common good.
"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," Archbishop Lori said.
Even if current religious liberty threats were overcome, the Catholic Church would still need to face "powerful forces which seek to prevent religious faith from exerting an appropriate and necessary influence within our culture," he said.
"Let us remain united with our ecumenical and interfaith partners in being that obstacle," he said.
About 40 protesters, many of them Catholic, stood outside the basilica holding a banner that read, "Bishops: We need pastors, not politicians."
Among them was Jannette Festa, a parishioner of the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in Baltimore. She said she believes that birth control is an economic, not moral, issue. "I'm pro-choice," she said. "I do not think that contraception as a part of health care is a religious liberty issue."
U.S. dioceses have planned a variety of events to coincide with the fortnight, which will culminate in a 12:10 p.m. Mass July 4 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. The bishops are encouraging Catholics to attend fortnight events and to subscribe to receive text message updates on religious freedom issues by texting "Freedom" to 377377.
— Maria Wiering, Catholic News Service
Patron saints of familiesThere's a saint for everyone, and families are no different. Here are a few noteworthy examples for your family to learn more about. There is the familiar and beloved St. Joseph, foster father of Jesus, and St. Francis of Assisi, who's on everyone's...
Reflections on St. PeterPeter the fishermanAfter Jesus, Peter is the figure best known and most frequently cited in the New Testament writings: he is mentioned 154 times with the nickname of Pétros, "rock," the Greek translation of the Aramaic name Jesus gave him directly;...
Pope Francis on the Year of FaithPope Francis spoke about the Year of Faith in his audience with representatives of the Churches and Ecclesial Communities, and other religions March 20: "I begin my apostolic ministry in this year that my venerated predecessor, Pope Benedict...
As pope, Benedict worked to promote understanding of Vatican IIVATICAN CITY — On Feb. 14, in one of the last public appearances of his pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI spoke to the clergy of Rome about his experiences at the Second Vatican Council, which he had attended as an expert consultant half a century...
People around world pledge to say rosary daily during Year of FaithEASTON, Mass. — The Family Rosary division of Holy Cross Family Ministries in Easton has gathered more than 80,000 pledges from people around the globe who said they would pray the rosary daily during the 2012-13 Year of Faith. The pledges,...
A culture of lifeIn 2013 our country observes a shameful anniversary: marking 40 years of a "culture of death" that began when the U.S. Supreme Court, in Roe v. Wade, struck down all state laws restricting abortion. Since the advent of "legalized" abortion,...
The Fathers of the Church
Lives of the Saints
St. Mark the Evangelist's feast day celebrated on April 25St. Mark is the patron of St. Mark Church in Huntersville, which was dedicated in 2009. (File, Catholic News Herald)St. Mark, the Evangelist, is the author of the second Gospel and the patron saint of notaries. He wrote the Gospel in Greek for the Gentile...
St. Damien of Molokai's life of sacrifice remembered May 10The Church will remember St. Damien of Molokai May 10. The Belgian priest sacrificed his life and health to become a spiritual father to the victims of leprosy quarantined on a Hawaiian island. Joseph de Veuser, who later took the name Damien in religious...
'Oracle of Palestine' St. Epiphanius of Salamis celebrated May 12On May 12 the Church honors St. Epiphanius of Salamis, an early monk, bishop and Church Father known for his extensive learning and defense of Catholic teachings in the fourth century. During a 2007 visit with the Orthodox Archbishop of Cyprus, Pope...
St. Katharine Drexel has local connectionOn March 3, the Church celebrates the feast of St. Katharine Drexel, a Philadelphia heiress who abandoned her family's fortune to found an order of sisters dedicated to serving the impoverished African American and Native American populations...
St. Bede known for scholarship and holiness, honored May 25The Church will celebrate the feast of St. Bede May 25. The English priest, monk and scholar is sometimes known as "the Venerable Bede" for his combination of personal holiness and intellectual brilliance. Bede was born during 673 near the...
- Read the Catechism in a year: A little to read every day, emailed each morning during the Year of Faith
- USCCB: Stories, videos and more about the Year of Faith
- Annusfidei.va: Vatican's Year of Faith website
- Catholic Relief Services: Features and stories about Year of Faith
- My Year of Faith App: Daily prayers, reflections and thoughts
- Video Catechism for Teens: A free online resource for youths and young adults
- Weekly video series: “C4: Ignite Your Catholic Faith”
- OnceCatholic.org: Geared for people who have left their Catholic faith
- Explore the Sacraments: An 8-part video series on the Sacraments
FROM THE PASTORS
Read and listen to homilies posted regularly by pastors at parishes within the Diocese of Charlotte:
- Fr. Frank Cancro at Queen of the Apostles
- Fr. Patrick Earl at St. Peter in Charlotte
- Fr. John Eckert at St. John the Baptist in Tryon
- Fr. Timothy Reid at St. Ann in Charlotte
- Fr. Benjamin Roberts at Our Lady of Lourdes in Monroe
- Fr. Patrick Winslow at St. Thomas Aquinas in Charlotte
- Watch full Masses live and on demand, listen to homilies and reflections from Sacred Heart Church in Salisbury
- Listen to homilies from St. William Catholic Church in Murphy