Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee
Today, I will celebrate the 4 p.m. Mass at St. Matthew Parish in Oak Creek, one of the oldest parishes in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. As we continue to pray as part of a combined effort in support of “Fortnight for Freedom,” we are reminded of the great gift given to us by the faithful of past generations, who sacrificed in order to establish and build the churches we have today.
How appropriate. One of the first local Catholic communities to exercise freedom of religion now helps us focus on its importance. The Constitution of the United States of America supports the tenet of religious freedom by stating, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Freedom is an essential aspect of the dignity of the person, and freedom of religion assures one’s freedom to assent to the divine truth and adhere to it.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (2108) states: “The right to religious liberty is neither a moral license to adhere to error, nor a supposed right to error, 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.”
When any government infringes upon the freedom of religion, human dignity suffers. Guidelines and provisions included in the current healthcare mandate from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services fail to recognize the right of self-definition for religious organizations. In doing so, they are creating laws prohibiting the free exercise of religion.
We are all called to respond to this governmental intrusion into the life of the Church. As Catholics, we have an obligation to go beyond the walls of our churches to serve the needs of our brothers and sisters in our society. Together, we are all called by the Gospel of Jesus Christ to LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
Note: this blog originally appeared as a special June 23, 2012 "Love One Another" email sent to Catholics throughout the Archdiocese of Milwaukee by Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki for the "Fortnight for Freedom" observance. If you are interested in signing up for these emails, please click here.