Archbishop urges Mass-goers to defend religious liberty

| Sara Kovach | July 3, 2012 | 0 Comments

Angela Muttonen, left, of St. Peter in Forest Lake prays with her children Roxanne, second from left, Bridget and Sophia during Mass at the Cathedral of St. Paul June 28. Archbishop John Nienstedt was the principal celebrant at the Mass, which both marked the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul and the Fortnight of Freedom, instituted by the U.S. bishops to emphasize and pray for religious freedom in America during the two-week period from June 21 to July 4. Dave Hrbacek / The Catholic Spirit

Angela Muttonen of St. Peter in Forest Lake braved the front pew at the Cathedral of St. Paul with  three of her young children for a Mass June 28.

Taking place on the eve of the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, it also was a Mass to mark the “Fortnight for Freedom.”

The mother of four was there to stand in solidarity with the U.S. bishops and Archbishop John Nienstedt, who celebrated the Mass, along with Auxiliary Bishop Lee Piché and about 10 other priests of the archdiocese.

Muttonen and others who attended the Mass left hopeful for the future of the archdiocese after Archbishop Nienstedt concluded his homily.

A ‘cherished heritage’

During the Mass, Archbishop Nienstedt invoked the intercession of Sts. Peter and Paul, martyrs of the church in Rome, to help worshippers be vigilant, pray and advocate in defense of religious liberty and conscience rights.

“Let us turn to our heavenly patrons for the graces we need to defend not only our rights but the cherished heritage of this country — a country in which religion and statecraft are allies and partners in building up the common good,” he said.

The Fortnight for Freedom began June 21 and ended July 4. The purpose of the observance, as explained by Archbishop Nienstedt, was to bear witness in both private and public ways to our commitment to religious liberty.

Archbishop Nienstedt said that now more than ever it is important to accept “our own essential need to evangelize,” and through “communion and mission,” a greater solidarity with the one holy Catholic Church will be formed.

“Our struggle to ensure that Catholics and Christians are allowed to continue to follow the dictates of their conscience and their faith is not for us alone. It is for the generations to come,” he said. “We did not choose this fight but it has come and we must be ready.”

Archbishop Nienstedt noted that religion is not the enemy “of dignity, rights and right reason,” but is rather the well-ordered life that the very virtues flow from, and the founders of America knew this when drawing up the Constitution.

Marking anniversaries

The Mass also marked the five-year anniversary of Archbishop Nienstedt’s arrival to the archdiocese as coadjutor archbishop and the three-year anniversary of Bishop Piché’s episcopal ordination.

Muttonen and children Roxanne, Bridget and Sophia wore buttons supporting the efforts of the nationwide movement to protect religious freedom.

She agreed with Archbishop Nienstedt’s point that education about religious freedom starts at home, as she plans to educate her children first about the beauty of sexuality rooted in the Catholic faith.

“I want to teach my children that sexuality is a treasured religious gift because it is given to us by God,” she said. “Then, I hope they will share that knowledge with others.”

She expressed hope that Catholics would pray and fast throughout the Fortnight as an offering to God of thanksgiving for religious freedom.

Donna Zroka, a parishioner of St. Paul in Ham Lake, attended the Mass to show the citizens in her community how important religious freedom is to Catholics.

“We shouldn’t have to be here defending our faith,” she said. “But we need to in order to show our support for the efforts of [church leaders], especially Archbishop Nienstedt.”

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