Catholics must stand for religious liberty, human life, archbishop says

| January 30, 2013 | 0 Comments

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Religious liberty is a cornerstone of American society — a foundational freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment.

But “the current [presidential] administration seems to be attacking the very thing this country was founded on,” said Staci Scherber. “So many people have sacrificed so much, often giving their lives for the rights we have. I think it’s important for each one of us to do what we can.”

Scherber, her husband John and six of their 10 children — all members of Mary, Queen of Peace in Rogers — gave witness to those beliefs with others from around the archdiocese who gathered Jan. 20 at the Cathedral of St. Paul for a Holy Hour for Religious Liberty, Marriage and Life.

The event coincided with a nationwide call by the U.S. bishops to advance a movement on behalf of life, marriage and religious liberty through prayer, penance and sacrifice.

Archbishop John Nienstedt, who led the holy hour, cited concerns during his homily with the Obama administration’s approach to issues of life and liberty.

“The administration has, it seems to me, given into a Godless secularism that seeks to marginalize the place of faith in our society,” he said. “In rejecting the truths proposed by religious faith, in seeking to contain and diminish it, this secularism has, at the same time, effectively devalued human life as well as religious liberty.”

The secular culture’s assault on human life can be seen in the toll taken by legalized abortion since the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling 40 years ago, said the archbishop, who noted that more than 50 million unborn children have lost their lives since then.

The religious liberty of those who oppose abortion is now threatened by the federal Department of Health and Human Services’ proposed rule to require most private and religious employers to include coverage for contraceptives, sterilization and some abortion-inducing drugs free of charge, even if the employer is morally opposed to such services, he said.

But it doesn’t stop there. Several states have legalized physician-assisted suicide, threatening the lives of the terminally ill and elderly. And, Archbishop Nienstedt said, “human life is further undermined by the dismantling of the most fundamental unit of society, namely the family, by seeking to redefine marriage.”

The Year of Faith, which runs through November, offers an opportunity to engage in the “new evangelization” and “turn back the powerful incursions of secularism against the dignity of human life and the freedom to practice our faith,” Archbishop Nienstedt said.

“With charity, civility and persistence, ‘whether in season or out of season,’ we must insist on the Church’s right and the rights of individuals to put our God-given liberties at the service of human life without the government forcing us to disobey our own teaching by leveling fines on our institutions or by taking away their accreditation, by penalizing private employers who have conscientious objections against immoral practices, or any of the other means the government has at its disposal,” the archbishop said.

“As believers and as citizens, we must robustly engage in the political process by voting with a properly formed conscience and by continually letting our elected officials know that we expect them to protect the God-given rights of life and liberty,” he added.

Alan and Kathy Loch, members of St. Timothy in Maple Lake, were among those who attended the holy hour. They brought four of their children, Kathy said, “so they know the importance of praying for religious liberty, marriage and life” and to “show our support for our faith.”

The Scherbers were also determined to convey a lesson to their children.

“We want our children to realize how important these issues are and that we will not always have the freedoms we have if we don’t pray and sacrifice for them,” Staci Scherber said. “We were excited to have the opportunity to be with our archbishop for this. It is too easy in our culture to take things for granted and think we will always have the rights we have.”


Prayer for the Protection of Religious Liberty

O God our Creator, from your provident hand we have received our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

You have called us as your people and given us the right and the duty to worship you, the only true God, and your Son, Jesus Christ.

Through the power and working of your Holy Spirit, you call us to live out our faith in the midst of the world, bringing the light and the saving truth of the Gospel to every corner of society.

We ask you to bless us in our vigilance for the gift of religious liberty.

Give us the strength of mind and heart to readily defend our freedoms when they are threatened; give us courage in making our voices heard on behalf of the rights of your Church and the freedom of conscience of all people of faith.

Grant, we pray, O heavenly Father, a clear and united voice to all your sons and daughters gathered in your Church in this decisive hour in the history of our nation, So that, with every trial withstood and every danger overcome — for the sake of our children, our grandchildren, and all who come after us — this great land will always be “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Source: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

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