Fortnight for Freedom
For 12 days now we have been praying, as a parish (and as individuals at home), for the Protection of our Religious Freedom. This prayerful “Fortnight for Freedom” will end in two days when we celebrate Independence Day, the Fourth of July holiday which marks our forefathers declaring our freedom from the then dictatorial and oppressive rule of England. Quite sadly, today, that “Freedom” is literally taken for granted as being an innate right, into which we in America are born. Yes, we live in a free country, but our freedom is no accident. Yes, it is also God-given. But…ironically…our freedom is not free!
The freedom we currently enjoy as Americans has been purchased at great cost, with the very lives of our forefathers. Initially, those 56 men who stood in old Independence Hall in Philadelphia, risked their lives, livelihood, and honor by signing that Declaration of Independence. An eight-year War of Independence ensued, lasting from 1775 to 1783. The history of the great price that has been paid for our freedom has become quite blurred for our children, and even many of us. Not only was there great sacrifice and cost to purchase the freedom of our nation, but, in addition, it has cost much to keep that freedom. Let us not forget the chilling winter at Valley Forge, the blood-stained fields of Saratoga. In my lifetime there have been Pearl Harbor and Midway; Normandy and Dunkirk; Pusan and Pork Chop Hill; Danang, Saigon and the Mekong Delta; and more recently the deployment to Desert Storm and the Middle East conflicts. The pages of our American history are quite reddened by the blood of those who have paid the supreme sacrifice to defend and preserve our freedom, as well as the freedom of many others.
America was truly founded on the principles of the Christian faith. Benjamin Franklin once remarked: “Whosoever will introduce into public affairs the principles of Christianity will change the face of the world.” Christian principles are indeed at the heart of our nation. However, in recent decades they have been under insidious attack, led quite conspicuously by the media and the entertainment industry, as they strive to replace Christian moral values with their own relativistic immoral values. And they are acting directly from Satan’s script…by portraying good as evil, and evil as good. Honor and Virtue have become increasingly rare commodities. Lying and Cheating, on the other hand, have become acceptable, quite ably modelled by even the very top level of our Government officials, and quite negatively influencing our children in schools. Yes, it seems quite obvious that, our Freedom is in a weakened condition; in real jeopardy, and in need of our continued prayer.
There are numerous freedoms that are named and protected by our country’s “Bill of Rights” (as the first ten Amendments to our Constitution are called.) The First Amendment guarantees our Freedom of Religion, Speech, Assembly, and Petition. While they are all tremendously important, during our Fortnight for Freedom, we are focusing on, and praying for, the defense and preservation of our Freedom of Religion; our American Religious Liberty. I would contend that with these freedoms at risk, comes a responsibility for us citizens, to do just that … defend them. Our Catholic religion has, for decades now, been a most prominent target of the media and entertainment industries. One of their primary “marketing tools” is licentiousness and sensual immorality. The Church that Christ instituted and commissioned to convey His principles and morals, is quite obviously a blatant obstacle to their success. Nevertheless, they have made tremendous immoral inroads in the last decade.
Consider these recent statistics! These are the results of two recently released Gallup Polls, that dealt with the subject of ”Morality.” They list the percentage of Americans that believe the following are “Morally Acceptable”:
- Birth Control = 91%
- Divorce = 73%
- Sex between an Unmarried Man and an Unmarried Woman (fornication) = 69%
- Homosexual or Lesbian Sexual Relations (sodomy) = 63%
- Having a Baby outside of Marriage = 62%
- Having an Abortion = 43%
- Sex between Teenagers (fornication) = 36%
- Viewing Pornography = 36%
- Polygamy =17%
- Extramarital Affairs (adultery) = 9%.
These are the highest percentages ever for birth control, divorce, homosexual or lesbian relations, having a baby out of wedlock pornography and polygamy. The only good news here is that for abortion, 49% say it is morally wrong. A May Gallup Poll indicated that 81% of Americans claim the state of American Moral Values is “poor” or “only fair”, and 77% said the “state of moral values” is getting worse.
So, while our Religious Freedom may still be protected in the words of our 1st Amendment, we as Catholic Christians have not been doing a very good job of actively defending the moral tenets of our religion. Let us, at the very minimum, not be guilty of being silent on the moral issues. I, as a priest, have the obligation to speak out and provide clarity on the moral issues of the day, and, in reality, so do all of us. Our religion (that is protected by law) needs also to be defended from the egregious assaults of the media and entertainers who claim that our adherence to the moral law is hatred…and nothing could be farther from the truth. Let us not cave in to the deceitful calls by these “opinion-influencers” for “political correctness”, and erroneous “tolerance” of immoral and sinful behavior that is destroying our culture and the family. Regarding Catholic morality, none of those 10 Moral issues listed above, are morally acceptable. There is no middle ground or extenuating circumstance that will make them o.k. Yes, we must love, console, be compassionate towards, and sensitive to… those afflicted by any psychological or dysphoric compulsions to engage in sinful lustful behaviors, but whether it is our own child, a sibling, relative or friend who is so afflicted, we must never compromise in condoning or embracing the sinful behavior (the sin itself) as being excusable, and morally acceptable. These are not short-sighted, hard-headed, merciless, or compassionless moral positions. They are based squarely on the Word of God and the doctrines of His Church…and no counselor or priest can honestly counsel us otherwise. Duplicity and erroneous medical and scientific claims, coupled with outright lies abound today regarding the morality of so-called same-sex expression and transgender confusion. And these have become direct attacks on our religion and require our protection, defense and our prayer.
O, Mary, patroness of our great nation, pray for us,