Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness – That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the consent of the governed – that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying the foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to affect their Safety and Happiness.”
This second paragraph from the Declaration of Independence defines the basis of our independence from England. Every generation that has followed must claim its contribution to the continuance of the sentiments expressed by our founding fathers. This fledgling democracy becomes the experiment of self-government, which will become the envy of the world. However, I firmly believe that any altering of destruction of our freedoms will not come from enemies outside, but through ignorance, neglect and apathy from those within.
I am old enough to remember Russian Prime Minister Nikita Khrushchev. It was the Cold War, and his visit to the United States and the United Nations produced fear in many Americans. He boldly proclaimed that he would not need to conquer the United States through warfare or armed aggression. Instead, the United States would fall through its own internal weaknesses. Khrushchev would not be around when Pope John Paul II, President Ronald Reagan, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and their leadership would challenge and confront world communism and the destruction of the Soviet Union. Down went the wall. However, Khrushchev was right in saying that internal forces created the real threat to the well-being of our country. A country that forgets its roots loses the resolve to defend the freedoms which the founders established as God-given. I would further offer – forget God, and you can forget your freedoms.
On July 4, I will be celebrating a Mass at St. Dominic Parish in Brookfield. My prayer will be for the protection of religious freedom in our country. It has been obvious to me that for some time our religious freedom is under attack. Traditional Christianity, in particular, has been characterized as the enemy to progress secularism. I find it ironic that political leaders who challenge the Church’s teachings on life and traditional marriage between a man and woman will embrace much of the Church’s social principles. It is a smorgasbord approach to religious teachings – choose what you like and condemn the rejected.
Our society needs religion. George Washington recognized that religion created the underpinning of our responsibility to one another and to ourselves, stabilizing our society in an accountability over and above self-interest. In honor of the upcoming Fourth of July holiday, allow me to close with Washington’s prayer for the United States of America:
Almighty God, we make our earnest prayer that Thou wilt keep the United States in Thy holy protection, that Thou wilt incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to government, and entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another and for their fellow citizens of the United States at large. And finally that Thou wilt most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility, and pacific temper of mind, which were the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion, and without humble imitation of whose example in these things we can never hope to be a happy nation. Grant our supplication we beseech Thee through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.
Let us exercise our religious freedom by following Christ’s command to LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
Note: This blog originally appeared as the July 3, 2018 "Love One Another" email sent to Catholics throughout the Archdiocese of Milwaukee by Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki. If you are interested in signing up for these email messages, please click here.