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Archbishop Chaput says the struggle for religious liberty goes beyond politics

By on Friday, 6 July 2012

Archbishop Chaput preaches at the end of the Fortnight for Freedom (CNS)

Archbishop Chaput preaches at the end of the Fortnight for Freedom (CNS)

Defending religious liberty is part of the bigger struggle to convert our own hearts and live for God completely, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia has said.

He made the comments at a Mass bringing the US bishops’ “fortnight for freedom” to a close in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington on July 4.

“The political and legal effort to defend religious liberty – as vital as it is – belongs to a much greater struggle to master and convert our own hearts, and to live for God completely, without alibis or self-delusion,” the archbishop said.

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops called for the fortnight in March, outlining several instances of “religious liberty under attack”, including the federal contraceptive mandate. They asked dioceses to plan Masses, prayer services, educational events and other activities from June 21 to July 4.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington was the principal celebrant at the Mass. Concelebrants included Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, and Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, who is chairman of the US bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty.

Outside the national shrine before Mass the crowd joined in the singing of patriotic hymns. The heat was daunting and the clergy, dressed in heavy white vestments, fanned themselves with missals as they waited to process into the shrine.

Once inside, the pews of the 3,500-capacity of the shrine’s upper church quickly filled. Other congregants stood, filling the side chapels dotting the church.

The crowd included Knights of Columbus honour guard with their feathered chapeaus to Brothers in humble brown robes with dirt-stained sandals.

Archbishop Chaput began his homily with a quote from Paul Claudel, the French poet and diplomat, who once described the Christian as “a man who knows what he is doing and where he is going in a world [that] no longer [knows] the difference between good and evil, yes and no. He is like a god standing out in a crowd of invalids. … He alone has liberty in a world of slaves.”

The archbishop talked about the idea of freedom of conscience, of knowing right and wrong, equating it with the greater idea of liberty.

Archbishop Chaput said Claudel “spoke from a lifetime that witnessed two world wars and the rise of atheist ideologies that murdered tens of millions of innocent people using the vocabulary of science. He knew exactly where forgetting God can lead.”

The modern indifference to morality and the growing sense of moral relativism Blessed John Paul II spoke of in the 1993 encyclical encyclical Veritatis Splendor can be countered with the values both Americans and Christians hold.

Drawing on the day’s Gospel, Archbishop Chaput pointed to Jesus’s words: “Render unto Caesar those things that bear Caesar’s image, but more importantly, render unto God that which bears God’s image – in other words, you and me. All of us.

“The purpose of religious liberty is to create the context for true freedom,” he said. “Religious liberty is a foundational right. It’s necessary for a good society. But it can never be sufficient for human happiness. It’s not an end in itself.”

He continued: “In the end, we defend religious liberty in order to live the deeper freedom that is discipleship in Jesus Christ. What good is religious freedom, consecrated in the law, if we don’t then use that freedom to seek God with our whole mind and soul and strength?”

Archbishop Chaput closed his homily by urging listeners to “fulfil our duty as citizens of the United States, but much more importantly, as disciples of Jesus Christ”.

He received a standing ovation from the congregation, with some in the crowd waving American flags.

At the end of the Mass, Cardinal Wuerl addressed the congregation, asking his listeners to carry forth the message of the “fortnight for freedom”.

In organising the fortnight foremost among the US bishops’ concerns is the US Department of Health and Human Services order that employers, including most religious ones, must provide insurance coverage for contraception, sterilisation and abortion-inducing drugs, which Catholic teaching considers morally objectionable.

Cardinal Wuerl echoed Pope Benedict’s warning of “radical secularism” that threatens to divorce Christians from their freedom of conscience.

“The Holy Father’s answer to this radical secularism is, as he explained, ‘an engaged, articulate and well-formed Catholic laity,’” the cardinal said.

Before releasing everyone to enjoy the rest their Independence Day celebrations, Cardinal Wuerl concluded: “This call to action should not end with the ‘fortnight’, however, and as heralds of the new evangelisation each of us is called to deepen our own appreciation of our faith, renew our confidence in its truth and be prepared to share it with others.”

  • Deesis

    “Religious liberty is a foundational right. It’s necessary for a good society. But it can never be sufficient for human happiness. It’s not an end in itself.” This is false. No one can be cooerced into accepting the Faith or any religious belief or atheism. This does not mean that freedom to believe anything is an absolute. In a non Catholic country= USA it means freedom for the Church. In a Catholic country it means the PRIVATE practise of non Catholic religion. In both cases it means the State and Church cooperating. In both cases it means the State and Church agreeing all non Catholic belief systems that promote violence, commit fraud and are a danger to civil peace and harmony are to be banned. Communism and Fascism would also be examples of belief systems that can be banned. In a Catholic country the governemnt cannot pass laws that contradict the Faith and  both Church and State work in harmony with the faith being the common philosophy by which all is judged.

  • shaoxiaotian

  • Acleron

    In this country and in the USA, religion has plenty of freedom. What religion doesn’t have and continually tries to obtain is the power to tell the rest of us what to do based on outmoded principles.

    Another freedom that the catholic religion tries to have is the freedom to lie whenever it likes without censure. Atheistic ideologies have not murdered millions using the vocabulary of science. Just a nonsensical statement to try to divert attention away from the deaths caused by religion.

  • GFFM

     What utter, unmitigated ignorant drivel. Every heard of Leninism, Stalinism, Hoh Chi Minh, Pol Pot or Mao? Your bigotry and willful stupidity are showing. The 20th century describes a litany of atheistic ideologies which have defined modernity. Breathtaking!

  • Guest

     ” Atheistic ideologies have not murdered millions using the vocabulary of science.”….Really, so what’s abortion then? Oh yes, that’s your inconvenient truth.

  • Guest

     Actually Acleron, I apologize for saying “your inconvenient truth”, it is wrong for me to assume your personal thoughts on that subject.

  • Parasum

      “In a non Catholic country= USA it means freedom for the Church.”

    ## What about freedom *from* the Church, freedom *from* religion ? STM atheists have a point here. Especially when a bishop acts as a recruiting-sergeant for the GOP:

  • Acleron

    Oh don’t worry, I agree with women and in fact all people having freedom of choice.
    But your argument does fail on it being an atheist principle. Plenty of theists have and agree with abortion.

  • Araujo Ferreira

    The bishop only compared the intent of the Obama to push his own pro-abortion agenda to the Church, giving references about when it happened in the History. I think that good will atheists should question if it is valid to obligate catholics to cooperate in abortion if it is just to look for another health insurance for that. Isn’t that a violence to religious freedom?

  • Araujo Ferreira

    so your rationale has two mistakes: 1) as long as there is some theist that agree with atheists regarding abortoin there is no reason anymore to question abortion itself? What is the point: search for the truth or winning against religions? 2) it is a very atheist common sense to equal catholicismo to any other religion or theism as if disqualifying them one could disqualify Catholicism too as a particular expression of that. That is an invalid argument as Catholicism see itself not as a part of some religion theory, but as Catholicism itself, that, by the way also disagree with others religions.

  • R J Mccallion

    Even simpler and hardly open to the semantic debate you have got involved in, the numbers of those killed in anti-clerical campaigns by avowedly atheistic regimes in Post-Revoutionary France; Mexico; the Soviet Union; Nazi Germany; China during the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution; and Cambodia under Pol Pot runs into the millions. They were all campaigns with very clear anti-religious elements in their agendas and the numbers are so huge as to boggle the imagination. Stalin said that collectivisation of agriculture cost around 30 million lives. Year zero cost a huge proportion of Cambodia’s population, as well as the lives of thousands of Buddhist monks, Catholics, other Christians, Muslims, etc. the Khmer Rouge, like all of them, we’re equal-opportunity anti-religious. The vocabulary of science, ‘rationalism’, ‘new men’ and so on andso forth was and always will be very much to he fore. They would archly ge much support if hey proclaimed that hey were about to engage in a campaign of barbarity, savagery and slaughter that woul challenge or exceed anything

  • R J Mccallion

    Acheron could be mistaken, or I’ll-informed, or e old ge lying. Let us g charitable Nd assume ignorance.
    Anti-religious regimes that mad a lot of use of the vocabulary of science (and rationalism,and logic) include the Terror inRvolutionary France; Mexico in the 1920s & 30s; the Soviet Union (Stalin reckoned collectivisation of agriculture cst around 30 million lives, more than WW2); China’s Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution; and, of course, Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge lost approaching haf it’s pulsation.
    Well – you wouldn’t expect them to whip up support by saying ‘we are about to engage in one of he most extensive and horrendous episodes f savagery, brutality and barbarity the world has ever known. We hope to set records or the body count, brutality and abandonment of any vestiges of morality. Want to join us?’. But That s what they all did… Regimes that set heir faces against religion abandon morality; history shows hat, uh out any out at ll.
    Any questions?

  • R J Mccallion

    “They would hardly get much support if they proclaimed that that they were about to engage in a campaign of barbarity, savagery and slaughter that would challenge or exceed anything seen in history before. All restraint would be abandoned and the body pile would blot out the sun”
    That us what the last sentence was supposed to say!

  • R J Mccallion

    Major editing problems here, for which I apologise!

  • Acleron

    Just one question. What does that have to do with the ‘vocabulary of science’? 

    Stalin was anti-science, he murdered doctors, he appointed Lysenko, so condemning millions to starvation because crops were grown unscientifically and he distrusted academics so much he killed many of them. The cultural revolution in China was a similar disaster after again deposing of the academics, including scientists. After Mao’s death, China sent out what scientists they had left, all over the world to try to catch up, it set them back in development by at least a generation.You should learn to think for yourself and forget this knee jerk reaction learned from your priests that any anti-religious movement is either/both scientific and atheist. Demagogues cannot countenance any opposition or independent thought, it is dangerous to their position. They learned the solution from religion, suppress it anyway you can, demonise it and kill anybody capable of free thinkng.You have more in common with those horrible monsters than you know.

  • Acleron

    No problem, still understandable.

  • Acleron

    Your point 1) is completely wrong. I happen to feel that much debate is necessary. It happens in atheist circles as well. The point I clearly made is that abortion is not a principle of atheism but of course anti-abortion is certainly a principle of yours.

    To answer point 2) consider the abortion rates, legal and non-legal in catholic countries.

    But as for confusing catholics with other theists, the members of a group, whether it be a cult, race, football club, nation etc, always see more differences between themselves and others than are present. I suppose it makes you feel superior. It is certainly encouraged by leaders of a group, it keeps them in power.

  • Araujo Ferreira

    wrong 3) superior? hehe. The jokes about catholics os that they feel guilty after believing in the Passion of Chtist. 

    Sorry but I really didnt get ur point about my point 2)? Can y make it more clear?

    about 1), ok. you socore. My mistake.

  • Acleron

    I was discussing women’s right to control their own bodies. This debate is thus about abortion:- pro and anti. You argued that catholics were somehow different from others and therefore pointing to theists in general was incorrect. I’m pointing out that about abortion you have pro and anti within catholicism, as do other groups. If I misinterpreted the point you were making, I apologise.

  • Araujo Ferreira

    thanks for the clarification. but we dont have catholics anti. and we dont have since the beggining of xx century the idea of catholic nations, catholics assumed the idea of secularization by themselves. groups like catholics for choice are clearly non-orthodox…