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Published: June 25, 2012
Archbishop Gomez on the Fortnight for Freedom
Los Angeles archbishop Jose Gomez wrote the following June 21 posting on the First Things website.
On June 21, the night before the Catholic Church traditionally remembers the martyrdom of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More at the hands of King Henry VIII, American Catholics will begin a unique two-week vigil of prayer, sacrifice, and public witness for the cause of religious liberty.
The Fortnight for Freedom was called by my brothers in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and it will conclude with the ringing of bells in churches all across the country on July 4, the memorial of our country’s independence. The bishops aren’t comparing the conditions of the American church in the early 21st century with that of Catholics persecuted during the English Reformation. We’re blessed in our country with a religious liberty that, sadly, most people in the world today do not enjoy. According to the Pew Center, three out of four people worldwide live in a country where the government doesn’t protect their right to worship and serve the God they believe in.
This global context puts the Catholic Church’s current conflict with the U.S. government in some perspective. But just because believers today aren’t executed for their beliefs and are free to go to church on Sundays, that doesn’t mean freedom of religion isn’t in jeopardy in America.
For our country’s founders—and for every American generation until now—freedom of religion has meant much more than the freedom to worship. Freedom of religion has meant the freedom to establish institutions to help us live out our faith and carry out our religious duties. Freedom of religion has meant the freedom to express our faith and values in political debates—and the freedom to try to persuade others to share our convictions.
In recent years, many have observed that our American consensus on religious liberty, conscience protection, and religion’s public role has been eroding. There are many causes for this. The first is the reality of religious indifferentism or “practical atheism”—the fact that growing numbers of people in our society are living as if God doesn’t exist or doesn’t matter. There’s no reason to care about religious freedom if you don’t care about being religious.
But our freedoms are also being eroded as the result of constant agitation from de-Christianizing and secularizing elements in American society. In the public arena, we’ve seen relentless efforts to get Church agencies to go along with secular agendas that violate Catholic beliefs—from trying to force Catholic hospitals to perform abortions and sterilizations, to trying to coerce Catholic adoption agencies to place children with homosexual couples.
In our wider culture, Christian faith and values are increasingly portrayed—in the media, in the courts, even in comments from high government officials—as a form of bigotry. In our diverse, pluralistic society, it seems sometimes that Christianity is becoming the one lifestyle that can’t be tolerated to have a role in public life.
These same secularizing and de-Christianizing forces are at work in our current conflict with the federal government’s health insurance mandates. No one can credibly claim that this conflict with the government is about access to abortion and birth control, because unfortunately, both are widely available and affordable to anyone who wants them in this country, often subsidized by federal and state governments.
It’s hard to escape the conclusion that our present conflict is part of a larger cultural struggle to redefine America as a purely secular society—a society in which religious institutions have no legitimate public role unless they are serving the government’s purposes.
This struggle to secularize America has been going on for a long time. What’s new is that our government, which is entrusted with the duty to protect religious liberty, has now taken sides against the liberty of the nation’s largest religious community. In this present conflict, our government is using the full weight of its powers to try to dictate the terms under which the Catholic Church and individual Catholics will be permitted to participate in our society. For perhaps the first time in our history, our government is acting as if our human rights don’t come from the hand of God, but are instead “benefits” that the government can bestow, define, and take away.
I’ve had well-meaning people ask me: Why has this conflict become so important to the Church? Why won’t we just “compromise” and provide birth-control insurance to our employees? They want me to know that this would be a small price to pay for the greater good of the Church being able to keep serving the poor in her hospitals, schools, and charities.
I agree that this has been a needless and unprovoked distraction for the Church. Catholic institutions have been forced at many levels to divert time, energy, and resources better spent serving the poor to defending ourselves against this unwarranted threat to our freedom from our own government.
But the Church doesn’t serve the poor to please the government. We serve the poor because we are compelled by the love of Christ. This same love for Christ compels us to bear witness that life, marriage, and family are sacred and that preventing children from being born is immoral. So the “compromise” we’re being offered is no compromise at all. It’s capitulation. It’s the temptation to serve the government instead of God.
To read original story, Click here.
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 12:10 AM By Dan
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 3:40 AM By Thomas Edward Miles
I now understand, “lets not make a MOUNTAIN out of a MOLE HILL!!” The Bishops are NO, Thomas More or John Fisher, that’s for sure!!! However, the chopping block is looking good!!!!
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 4:49 AM By MAX
In addition to praying this 4th of July, read the US Constitutution and urge others to do so. You will be surprised at how many times OBAMA has VIOLATED his OATH of OFFICE to uphold the Constitution. These are only two – “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; ” AND ” all legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives (meaning that the Obama Administration can not make up its own laws).
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 7:20 AM By MacDonald
“But the Church doesn’t serve the poor to please the government. We serve the poor because we are compelled by the love of Christ.” LOVE IT! This reminds me of a speaker at the Anaheim Religious Ed Congress years ago who asked the huge crowd: who helps the poor because it makes them feel good, and then, who helps the poor because God says to? She said, “I’m with the SECOND group!” It’s not about feeling good or virtuous or showing off, it’s about obeying the commandments of the Almighty, which including helping the needy. Or else. (“Whatever you NEGLECTED to do for these of these…”)
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 7:55 AM By Camille
Religious liberty is a wonderful but nebulous goal to seek. A more concrete concern at present is the possible state authorization to expand the workforce by licensing midwives to kill babies, SB 623, Abortion, formerly SB 1338, is fast approaching a final vote in Sacramento. Be a Thomas More, stand up and declare you will not support this attack on Christian values.
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 7:56 AM By Catherine
Archbishop Gomez wrote, “I’ve had well-meaning people ask me: Why has this conflict become so important to the Church? Why won’t we just “compromise” and provide birth control to our employees?” I would like to ask Archbishop Gomez if these well-meaning people are our own un-catechized fellow Catholics or even possibly other lead shepherds? Archbishop Gomez states that this attack on the Church is a “needless and unprovoked distraction for the Church” How can this battle be referred to as a needless unprovoked distraction? How can you win the battle if you keep ignoring the root cause? This latest attack is a well deserved punishment and a much needed wake up call for years of disobedience. Laity as well as clergy have been rebelling against, ignoring or trying to dismantle Church teaching. Our Catholic Institutions should be using their time, energy and resources to take care of the poorest of the poor, The SPIRITUALLY NEGLECTED. You DO provoke and invite the onslaught of secularism when you fail to defend and uphold all Church teaching. This battle has absolutely been provoked for years by the combination of disobedience and spiritual neglect. Our lead shepherds do have authority to enforce Canon 915. Our lead shepherds do have the authority to monitor what is taught in our Catholic Universities, Colleges, grade schools and other Catholic Institutions. Many of our own Catholics such as Kathleen Sebelius have from within provoked this battle while still receiving Holy Communion and calling themselves a Catholic in good standing. That was not a distraction. That was another in your face rejection of our Catholic Faith. Our bishops cannot just rely on the faithful for the Fortnight for Freedom. Our bishops have to courageously and charitably love the likes of Kathleen Sebelius just as much as the poor. After all even Jesus said, “The poor you will always have with you; but me you have not always.” Matthew 26:11 Douay- Rheims Catholic Bible
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 8:03 AM By Rick DeLano
“So the ‘compromise’ we’re being offered is no compromise at all. It’s capitulation. It’s the temptation to serve the government instead of God.” Bravo, Your Excellency. The lines are, at long last, being clearly drawn. That’s the good news. The bad news is that this is now a fight, and fights require a strategy for victory, and a willingness to remove those within one’s own ranks who are committed partisans of the opposition. Canon 915.
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 8:11 AM By Cole Thornton
On the previous Friday before this posting Bishop Gomez was in bed with Obama all excited over the lawless ruling concerning immigration and those under 30 here illegally. In this posting, with no mention of the word Obama, he goes after the “U.S. government”. When satan tempted Jesus I remember Jesus telling satan to be gone and get lost, not “maybe we can work next week on health care”, or “maybe we can partner next month on immigration”, or “fill in the blanks”. Reading Gomez comments is like watching a ping pong match.
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 8:16 AM By MD
What a great article. I think the bishops have done a good job thus far at defending the freedom of our faith, but I have not seen it trickle down to the parish level enough. Every Mass should be educating the faithful about what is going on, that this is not a fight about contraception, but about the ability to serve God according to His Divine Law. Even if Obama Care is struck down this week, which I pray it is, our struggle with the government has just begun as it is very clear that they are on the offensive to secularize America more than it is already. The problem is, we have allowed it to become a secular society and are now reaping what we sewed. I am glad we are beginning to wake up now. There is great hope and our bishops have shown us this hope if we heed their call to prayer, fasting, sacrifice and education. God Love You.
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 10:20 AM By JLS
If we have ostriches instead of bishops, then how has this come about?
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 10:27 AM By Ray
7:56 AM By Catherine. Catherine said it so right.
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 12:48 PM By Ted
As long as he allows open dissenters at his Religious Ed conference, he has no credibility whatsoever on any subject.
He’s the same as Mahony, two sides of the same counterfeit coin.
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 1:49 PM By JLS
MD, I’ve heard the same tune, “beginning to wake up”, now for over thirty years … must be a very long dawn, or is it still twilight time?
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 1:52 PM By Bob One
Ted, please list the dissenters and what they have said that makes them dissenters. Thanks.
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 2:56 PM By Kenneth M. Fisher
Ted, 12:48 PM,
As the leader of the opposition to the Religious Dis-Education Congress, I can’t agree that he has no credibility. His credibility is limited by his derelictions, but not non-existent.
God bless, yours in Their Hearts,
Kenneth M. Fisher
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 3:07 PM By lula
The condition we find ourselves in right now is the result of the prolonged practice of Satanic Sympathy = feeding evil by reason of doing Christian Charity. Charity demands understanding and clarity of thinking so that the recipient of it will learn to see the love of God and His Justice that after one ahs received the help, then, one must go ahead to do the right thing ~ how to feed oneself and solves one’s own problems. Helping someone out in an emergency, but not his/her poverty. it is not a sin to be poor, if one choices to stay there, its his/her choice. No one should be responsible for someone else’ choice. No one can eats for anyone else; let each gathers his/her own food for his/her mouth. We will take care of the young, the sick, the elderly and the inferred, but never the able bodies ~ even the animals know how to feed themselves, so they don’t perish! What we have encouraged is “Slothfulness” to too many for too long! time to do it right ” as ye saw so shall ye reap (eat).”
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 8:11 PM By max
wow! people calling an opus dei priest or in this case archbihswop a LIBERAL and a DISSENTER is something i never thought i’d see in my lifetime…
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 9:28 PM By JLS
Yes, Jesus fed 5000, and He did it in less than one day. He spent another three and a half years, or about 1260 days (less a few more for more such feedings maybe) preaching and teaching the Word. In fact He fed the thousands specifically so He could teach them. It sure does not seem to be the way the Church works it today … rather they simply feed them and then tell them all is well no matter what they choose to do.
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 11:57 PM By Carolyn
Psalm 10B. Rise up, Lord God! Raise your arm! Do not forget the poor!
Posted Tuesday, June 26, 2012 1:05 AM By Denise Riggio
“The days of America are numbered.” John Anthony Hardon S.J. Servant of God When I heard him say this to a group of catechists that Fr. trained and founded of which I am a member, I honestly didn’t realize his prediction would occur in my lifetime.
Posted Tuesday, June 26, 2012 10:47 AM By k
Denise Riggio, thank you for being a Marian Catechist. Are you going to the Church Teaches Forum in Louisville?
Posted Tuesday, June 26, 2012 11:02 AM By Marie
I read the entire “Fortnight for Freedom: Why Now” article by Archbishop Gomez in the online FIRST THINGS 6/21/2012. There was an excellent comment by Charles N. Marrelli of “Writers for Life” that explains why a majority of Catholics would vote for radically pro-abortion President Barack Obama: ………
6.21.2012 | 3:10pm……..
Charles N. Marrelli says: I just don’t get it! And please, will someone explain it to me. I understand how we would want to schedule special events in support of a national campaign to teach and witness for religious liberty. But where has everyone been during the last forty years? The Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions of 1973 legalized, and purportedly, moralized, abortion on demand! What similar national campaigns did we initiate for preborn life?……. I read recently that Archbishop William Lori called religious liberty, “the pre-eminent social-justice issue of our time.” In my opinion, the pre-eminent social injustice of all time is abortion-on-demand, and for four long decades millions of our preborn American citizens have suffered the worst kind of social injustice, not just the loss of religious liberty, but the loss of life itself! ………Regrettably, our nation’s religious leaders, and respected moralists, did not recognize the magnitude and severity of this greatest of evils. If they had, the majority of Catholics would not have voted for a radically pro-abortion president. ………Abortion on demand is a premeditated act that destroys the life of a preborn American citizen; the inevitable consequence is that we are a nation of barbarians. ……Prayers for our preborn American citizens,
…….Charles N. Marrelli….Writers for Life……Irvine, CA 92620….prolifedigest(DOT)com…………We are a nation of BARBARIANS, indeed!
Posted Tuesday, June 26, 2012 9:07 PM By Cole Thornton
JLS, Soup kitchens in your local city afford the local bishop and some of his priests to come once a year, ladle food for a couple hours, take a few pictures for the local diocesan newspaper, make a couple of emotional statements, then go home. The clergy does this dressed in civilian clothes, no collars are seen, and nothing is changed by this charade. At least those 5000 Jesus fed got a pretty good sermon as they ate!
Posted Tuesday, June 26, 2012 10:10 PM By JLS
You’ve hit the nail on the head, Marie. Soft episcopal language vs clear sharp bold confident language one finds in Scripture and Saints.
Posted Wednesday, June 27, 2012 3:08 PM By JLS
Cole, of course something is changed by the soup kitchens … the recipients of the food go on to live another day or so. But the govt is capable of doing this, and after all maybe they supply most or a big part of the money. Maybe the govt participation is why the bishops go incognito, not wanting to take false credit for a govt operation.
Posted Wednesday, June 27, 2012 6:45 PM By max
“St. Anthony’s Dining Room (45 Jones Street), has been serving free meals to the poor and homeless in the Tenderloin since 1950 and now serves about 3,000 meals a day. The dining room, which was a converted garage and sat about 200 people, has served approximately 38 million meals in its 62 years, often to people for whom this is their only guaranteed meal each day.” SOMEHOW, i think JESUS is not angry with this catholic outreach in san francisco…silly me…
Posted Thursday, June 28, 2012 10:05 PM By JLS
max, you are intentionally or numbly deflecting the issue. Why are you deceptively polarizing the faithful? There is a false rumor that traditionalists had the charity dimensions of the Church … Why do you bear this false witness against your neighbor?
Posted Friday, June 29, 2012 10:10 AM By max
“Posted Thursday, June 28, 2012 10:05 PM By JLS—max, you are intentionally or numbly deflecting the issue. Why are you deceptively polarizing the faithful? There is a false rumor that traditionalists had the charity dimensions of the Church … Why do you bear this false witness against your neighbor?” woo, boy, JLS, it looks like your typingh is getitng as bad as mine, becasue your post doesn’t make any sense. did you mean to write something else? like maybe “hate” instead of “had” ?
Posted Friday, June 29, 2012 6:55 PM By JLS
max, if you did understand what my post says, then you’d be guilty of it, but in that you are obviously without guile, then it’s ok. No reason to get all fritzy about it.
Posted Friday, June 29, 2012 11:30 PM By JLS
max, yes, “hate”, and you continue to avoid the engagement. Hit and run?
Posted Friday, June 29, 2012 11:33 PM By JLS
max, maybe if the pastors in the Frisco area had been more faithful to Christ, then there would’ve been far fewer people lining up at the soup kitchen. Maybe the extreme imbalance between corporal works of mercy and spiritual works of mercy has been institutionalized, with govt help, to the point where the real Gospel has been forgotten.
Posted Saturday, June 30, 2012 4:28 PM By Kenneth M. Fisher
JLS, 11:33 PM,
I think what you meant to write was, if the Bishops had taught more about the Capital Sin of Sloth, there would have been far fewer people lining up at the the soup kitchen?
God bless, yours in Their Hearts,
Kenneth M. Fisher
Posted Sunday, July 01, 2012 6:41 AM By Mark from PA
Max, thank you for your post of 6/27, 6:45 PM. Yes, these people are doing the work of Christ, who said, “Whatsoever you do to the least of these my brother, that you do unto me.”
Posted Sunday, July 01, 2012 7:42 AM By JLS
In other words, why feed the devilish. Convert them to the Bread from Heaven.
Posted Sunday, July 01, 2012 8:49 AM By Mark from PA
Mr. Fisher, I read your comments just before I left for Mass. I hope that you listened to the second reading at Mass today. St. Paul spoke about sharing and equality. The gospel was one of my favorites, it spoke of the healing of a woman and also how Christ brought back to life a 12 year old girl.
Posted Sunday, July 01, 2012 11:57 AM By Abeca Christian
Who really are the poor one has to ask. Who are they? It can’t be the ones who abuse the system at the expense of the hardworking Americans. Who really are the poor? Or are they poor in spirit?
Posted Sunday, July 01, 2012 12:19 PM By JLS
Kenneth, partially. But I tried to convey more than simply that the uncatechised poor would be slothful. I’m laying it on the doorstep of the bishops’ throne rooms … because that is what the Pope has done. In other words what good does it do to feed the belly without feeding the soul? None.
Posted Sunday, July 01, 2012 2:19 PM By OSCAR
CCC: # 1866, and # 2411 need to be taught by Bishops, as well as Holy Scripture – 1 Thess 4:12 and 2 Thess 3:10. Do you think they are afraid of the wayward Nuns jumping up and down, and the Theologians who support Liberation Theology – stealing and coveting of others goods?
Posted Sunday, July 01, 2012 3:07 PM By JLS
Kenneth, I just now checked Wikipedia for a concept of Mexican political parties … I now understand why such a large portion of US hispanics vote Democrat … all the Mexican political parties are socialist in one way or another.
Posted Sunday, July 01, 2012 6:06 PM By max
JLS, does each bishop really have a “throne room?” how very cool. “off with their heads!” “bring me my scepter!” i can just picture it now…
Posted Sunday, July 01, 2012 8:36 PM By Catherine
MarkfromPA, “Whatsoever you do for the least of my brothers, that you do unto me.” You are right Mark. A vote for Barack Obama was not at all helpful for the most vulnerable of your brothers and sisters or for the religious freedom of the Catholic Faith and other faiths.
Posted Sunday, July 01, 2012 8:38 PM By Kenneth M. Fisher
JLS, 3:07 PM,
The same could be said, and is being said, about the two major Parties in America. We have to use our God given judgement to decide which one is best at this time.
In Mexico, the PRI is the Party of Calles the butcher of the Cristeros, the PAN is closer to the Republcan model, and the the third one is closer to the Communist Party. Of course Calles’s Party is also closer to the Communist Party.
Viva Cristo Rey!
God bless, yours in Their Hearts,
Kenneth M. Fisher
Posted Sunday, July 01, 2012 8:39 PM By Kenneth M. Fisher
Do you actually trust Wikipedia?
God bless, yours in Their Hearts,
Kenneth M. Fisher
Posted Sunday, July 01, 2012 9:08 PM By JLS
The thing about ownership of money is that capitalism produces more of it. The money is not hidden in a bank vault but used. The whole issue is who should control how the money is spent. Welfare for people so they do not have to work? Various projects the pay those who work?
Posted Sunday, July 01, 2012 9:36 PM By Anne T.
Be careful what you wish for, Thomas Edward Miles. The French Revolutionaires did a lot of chopping off of heads only to find their heads chopped off in turn. And King Henry VIII, well he ended up mentally and physically incapacitated with some illeness that he probably contacted from an STD.
Posted Sunday, July 01, 2012 9:45 PM By Anne T.
Thank you Archbishop Gomez for speaking out.
Posted Sunday, July 01, 2012 10:29 PM By Anne T.
Actually, Henry the VIII was a total mental and physical wreck before he died, not just incapacitated.
Posted Monday, July 02, 2012 5:40 AM By Canisius
@ Bob One, liberals by definition are dissenters, get that through your skull
Posted Monday, July 02, 2012 4:40 PM By Abeca Christian
Government agencies such as Section 8, their representatives treat landlords with such disrespect. They are rude and unprofessional. I don’t see why anyone would want to work with such rude government reps. Our taxes are paying for these agencies to thrive yet they treat outsiders as if they need to be kissing up to them. I hope landlords would not be so desperate to accept section 8. I feel for those that need government help but yet have to feel like slaves and so dependent. God have mercy!
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