Thursday, June 20, 2013

Faithful Citizenship

As the 2nd Fortnight For Freedom begins tomorrow ....  Our bishops say:  

 His Excellency Archbishop José H. Gomez

Archbishop of Los Angeles:

Resources for Faithful Citizenship
Although he lived more than 500 years ago, St. Thomas More’s life and witness seem more timely to me than ever.
I have been thinking a lot about him as we prepare to celebrate the feast of St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher on June 22.

Both were executed during the Protestant Reformation in England because they refused to bow to the political pressures of King Henry VIII — who demanded that they accept his “supremacy” over the Church and deny the Church’s teachings on the sanctity of marriage.

St. John Fisher was a bishop, so his witness of courage has a powerful meaning for me as your Archbishop.

St. Thomas More was a layman. He was a loving father and husband; a loyal son of the Church; an upright lawyer and civil servant.
And in many ways, we need to learn from his example today.

Because Thomas More was also a selfless servant of truth and a servant of people; a man of conscience who obeyed the law of God rather than the law of men. He was a faithful citizen who gave his life rather than compromise the truth and teaching of the Church.

Our times call for Catholic voices and faithful Catholic witnesses.

Right now in California and across the country, the Church faces deep challenges from the government.

The Church is not an institution or a corporation. The Church is a family, the family of God. We see that reality when we gather each week to worship Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. We are one family made up of many families, each of us able to pray to God as “Our Father.”

To be faithful to the Gospel of Jesus, we need to be faithful citizens. For bishops and priests, that means stirring hearts and minds and forming consciences, nourishing people with the Bread of Life and the Word of God. We want to inspire people to love and serve the poor and to always be close to those in need. We want to motivate people to build a society worthy of the God-given dignity of every person.

Lay people carry out their duties of faithful citizenship by living their faith in the world — in their family, their work, in public life. By running for political office; by working within political parties; by communicating our concerns and positions to our elected officials; and by joining Church and community organizations that seek justice and the common good in society.

To assist you in carrying out your duties, the Archdiocese has established a new webpage, “Resources for Faithful Citizenship.” On this page you will find information to help you form your conscience in light of Catholic teaching and resources to become better informed about issues of importance to the Catholic community. You will also find information for contacting and learning more about your elected officials.

Through this new webpage, we provide a listing of the Catholic charities, parishes and schools serving in every legislative district in the Archdiocese. I found this to be very instructive. Because you can see directly the impact the Church has in our communities — through our immigration and refugee assistance programs; through our preschools and other services to working families and the poor; through our housing and health care programs; our elderly assistance programs; and all our works of community and neighborhood development.

The Church is a force for human dignity and social justice throughout our state. Which is why we need to fight to defend the Church.

Right now, my brother bishops and I in the California Catholic Conference are asking you to contact your Assembly Member and urge them to vote “no” on California Senate Bill 131. This legislation puts the social services and educational work of the Church at risk and unjustly discriminates against Catholic schools and other private employers. The bishops of the California Catholic Conference believe it is urgent for Catholics to act now.

You can find more background on SB 131 and information on how to contact your Assembly Member on our new webpage. You can reach this new page at

Again this year, the United States Catholic Bishops are asking all of us to pray in a special way for religious liberty during these next two weeks, June 21 to July 4, which we have designated as a “Fortnight for Freedom.”

Let’s pray for our religious freedom this week — and let’s exercise that freedom by contacting our legislators about SB 131.
And let’s ask Our Lady of the Angels to help us to carry our duty to be faithful citizens with courage and strength.

Archbishop Gomez’s new book, “Immigration and the Next America,” is available for preorder at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels’ Gift Shop (; Follow him at

And, By 

His Eminence Timothy M. Cardinal Dolan
Archbishop of New York: 

Fortnight For Freedom

Standing in New York Harbor, the Statue of Liberty is one of our most beloved landmarks, both as New Yorkers and as Americans. So many of our ancestors fondly recalled seeing Lady Liberty, their first vision of a new homeland. Many of them told the story of seeing her for the first time, and not a few of them had to pause in retelling it because of a lump in their throat or a tear in their eye.

Even those of us who were born in America cherish the Statue of Liberty, and, even more importantly, what it stands for. Who indeed can fail to be moved by the line from Emma Lazarus’ famous poem:

“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”

That atmosphere of liberty is so much a part of the American experience and heritage. Of course, most of us did not have to travel far and suffer hardship to glimpse the torch of the Statue, and to embrace her promise of freedom. Most newcomers today do not come by ship, and so never set eyes upon her. We New Yorkers, frequently in a rush to our next destination, don’t even look out into the Harbor very often.

So it would be easy for us to take the Statue of Liberty for granted, as just another landmark for tourists to visit. And it would be all too easy to forget how precious — and fragile — is that breath of freedom that our forerunners yearned for so ardently. This desire for freedom was written into the human heart by God, and exalted in God’s word in the Bible. It is expressed so powerfully in the founding documents of our nation, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. It is the ideal to which all our national institutions aspire, and which they are bound to protect and respect. It is for freedom that so many of our brothers and sisters have been willing to sacrifice their lives to defend.

I don’t wish to push this analogy too far, but in recent years it has become a bit more difficult to “breathe free” as deeply as we would like. The atmosphere is not quite so clear and mild any more. Our liberty — like clean air — isn’t something we can take for granted.

This is the reason that the Bishops of the United States have called upon all Catholics, and all people of good will, to spend the days from June 21 through July 4 as a Fortnight for Freedom. These fourteen days are designed to raise awareness and to encourage action on a number of the current challenges to religious liberty. These include:
The HHS mandate, which presumes to intrude upon the very definition of faith and ministry, and could cause believers to violate their consciences.
Impending Supreme Court rulings that could redefine marriage, which will present a host of difficulties to institutions and people who stand on their faith-based understanding of authentic marriage as between one man and one woman
Proposed legislation at the national and state levels that would expand abortion rights, legalize assisted suicide, restrict immigrants from full participation in society, and limit the ability of Church agencies to provide humanitarian services.
Government intrusion into the rights and duties of parents regarding their children.
Overt persecution of believers in many countries of the world.

My brother bishops and I are encouraging people to offer prayers to God, the source of our freedom, that we may fully enjoy the liberty that was sought by those who came to our shores. We are also urging practical action to defend our freedom.

Our two weeks begin tomorrow, June 21, and include moving feasts, such as June 22, the feast of Saint Thomas More and Saint John Fisher, both martyrs in England as they prophetically defended the rights of the Church against intrusion by the crown; June 24, the Birth of Saint John the Baptist, the one who defended God’s law to a tyrant and lost his head because of his courage; and, of course, Independence Day.

We must never forget the power of the American promise, which was passed on to us by our ancestors, and which we hold in trust for generations to come.

And, like Lady Liberty, may we always be proud to lift high the torch of freedom and hope to those who yearn for it today.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Only Positive, Appropriate Comments Please! -Joseph