Dear Parishioners: Last Saturday at the Cathedral, Bishop Tobin ordained two young men, Fathers Nathan Ricci and Jorge Rocha as priests for service in our Diocese . While ordaining these fine young men as priests of Providence is truly a great blessing, we must be mindful that we are not ordaining as many priests as we need. It is a stark sign of our times that we don’t ordain enough men to replace those priests who retire from active ministry and those who go to their eternal reward. Please pray for more priestly vocations for our Diocese. Also let us thank Bishop Tobin for sending us a wonderful young priest like Fr. Josh Barrow as our new Associate Pastor. Fr. Barrow begins his priestly ministry here at OLM this weekend. I am sure you will find him to be a fine young priest and give him your usual warm welcome.
On Monday we mark Independence Day in the United States. It is a day to celebrate with family, friends and fireworks! But more importantly it is a day to celebrate our freedom from the oppression of British despotism. We give God thanks for the blessings of our nation and for our freedom.
For some years now, the Catholic bishops here in the United States have wanted to focus our attention to the threats to religious freedom both at home and abroad. And so, beginning with the feast days of Saints John Fisher and Thomas More on June 22 and ending with on the Fourth of July, we observe a “Fortnight of Freedom.” It is a two week period of prayer and petitioning our Lord to help us protect this most basic right, and the foundation of all other human rights, the right to religious freedom and the right to freedom of conscience.
If anyone thinks that religious freedom is not under assault in our world today, or that our concerns of our Church are a bit overwrought, I would remind you of the ongoing genocide against Christians in the Middle East. We have seen in the media images of Christians beheaded, crucified or burned alive in cages simply because they professed the Christian faith.
In the second decade of the 21st century, some 150,000 Christians are killed for their faith every year. These modern-day martyrs are victims of a despotism in its hardest and harshest form. Yet, in this country and in others, people of faith are being increasingly subjected to a soft despotism in which ridicule, ostracism, and denial of opportunities are being used to marginalize us.
A new religious intolerance is being established in our country. We see this when Christian pastors are stalked and threatened for being “Christian” pastors, when social scientists are expelled from universities for having turned up “politically incorrect” facts, when charitable organizations and religious schools are harassed if they take seriously their faith’s moral precepts. We see this in the refusal of the Administration to accommodate Catholic groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor and others because of their conscientious objection to subsidizing immoral activities. The Federal Government has also refused to exempt religious groups from paying for elective abortions in their healthcare policies in the State of California.
Sometimes, we are told, “Keep your religion to yourself.” It is becoming almost the new conventional wisdom that religion is private and faith is something to be practiced in the privacy of one’s home. Religious faith is indeed personal but it should never be “private.” And professing a religious faith should not make anybody a second-class citizen or worse.
The right to religious liberty has its foundation in the very dignity of the human person. Religious freedom is the human right that guarantees all other rights — peace and harmonious living together is only possible if freedom of religion is fully respected here and abroad.
So celebrate this Independence Day with family, friends and fireworks but also stop and pray for the protection of religious liberty too. Happy Fourth of July! Be well. Do Good. God Bless. Go Sox!