Loading
Archbishop calls for return to America's 'founding ideals'
Archbishop William Lori speaks at a Legatus conference Feb. 8, 2013. Credit: Patrick Novecosky/Legatus.
Archbishop William Lori speaks at a Legatus conference Feb. 8, 2013. Credit: Patrick Novecosky/Legatus.

.- Catholics today must help the U.S. return to its founding principles amid dangers to religious liberty, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore told a gathering of business leaders.

“In the spirit of the New Evangelization, may I invite you...to engage your network of family members, colleagues, and friends to understand more profoundly how religious freedom is threatened and to think of our political system with more than enlightened self-interest,” he said during his Feb. 8 address at the Annual Legatus Summit.

Legatus is a group which aims to help its members promote the faith through their business, professional, and personal lives. Its 2013 Annual Summit was held in Scottsdale, Ariz., and was focused on the Year of Faith as a summons to deeper conversion.

Archbishop Lori's keynote address on religious freedom began by recalling the American bishops' 1884 Council, which included discussion of the compatibility between the American system of government and the religious liberty enjoyed by the Church in the United States.

At the time the Church here was flourishing, and Cardinal James Gibbons, then the archbishop of Baltimore, wrote that “we consider the establishment of our country’s independence, the shaping of its liberties and laws, as a work of special Providence, its framers 'building better than they knew,' the Almighty's hand guiding them.”

The 1884 Council of Baltimore decided that there is a fundamental compatibility between the American constitution and “the Church’s understanding of the natural law.” However, Archbishop Lori noted, this view “has recently been called into question.”

The diminishing role of religion in America is leading to a different understanding of religious freedom than existed in the past, and this “is part of the challenge of the New Evangelization to which Pope Benedict has called us in this Year of Faith and beyond.”

The archbishop said that were all Catholics “vibrantly evangelized and systematically catechized, religious freedom would not be challenged so readily” as it is.

The growing skepticism that “basic moral truths” can be discovered by reason, that natural law exists, he said, leads to the growing belief in American society that religious institutions must conform to prevailing trends “or else be reined in.”

Archbishop Lori said that the federal contraception mandate rules “in effect limit full religious freedom mainly to worship and the teaching of doctrine” and that “we are losing our freedom to create a workplace rooted in Catholic values.”

He said that some believe the founding fathers' understanding of human rights were opposed to natural law, but the archbishop affirmed that their understanding of natural law was in accord with the Catholic view.

Archbishop Lori also affirmed that the framers' were “far from hostile to religion” and meant the separation of church and state to protect religious freedom, not “hem it in or to eliminate it.”

The positive relation between the Church and American government began to be threatened particularly in the early 20th century, when a leading Supreme Court justice, Oliver Wendell Holmes, wrote many opinions which opposed natural law, reflected moral scepticism, and espoused relativism.

“Once human rights, our founding documents, and our legal system are divorced from any attachment to the real world, created by God with in-built meaning...then the path is cleared for human rights to expand exponentially: for new rights to be discovered in the founding documents that are not grounded in that truth and goodness which lead to human flourishing,” said Archbishop Lori.

He pointed to the so-called rights to abortion, sterilization, abortifacient drugs, and same-sex marriage. The archbishop contrasted these new 'rights' with the civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, which was “rooted in deep convictions about the dignity of the human person whose rights and freedom are to be recognized and guaranteed by law.”

He noted that Martin Luther King Jr.'s Letter from a Birmingham Jail referenced natural law, as it is understood by Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquinas. However, the “ever expansive world of human rights” wishes to ignore references to “values that flow from human dignity and human nature” in the founding documents of our nation.

Archbishop Lori described the divorce of human law from natural law as a “downward spiral,” starting with a relativistic scrutiny of religious and moral teachings “once shared by almost everyone.” The next step is legislation that upholds acts, such as abortion, that are contrary to the teachings once held in common.

Then there are merely “allowances” and “exemptions” are made for those groups who still hold the once-common values of society. Finally, “these exemptions are narrowed or removed as some religious and moral teachings are branded as a form of intolerable bigotry,” the archbishop said.

Archbishop Lori concluded his talk by describing natural law and religious freedom as the “bearing walls” upholding a free and democratic society.

“Let us and those around us allow (the) Holy Spirit to light our minds with Christ’s truth and to warm our hearts with his love, so that we be that generation of believers and citizens who call our country back to its founding ideals, who understand that the framers did indeed build better than they knew and in doing so demanded of us the very best.”

Tags: Religious freedom


Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Pilgrimage from Czech Republic to Assisi and Rome for intentions
Pilgrimage from Czech Republic to Assisi and Rome for intentions
Testimony of young Indian who met Pope in Korea
Preparations of the Closing Mass of 6th Asian Youth Day
Missionary of Charity, Korea
Testimony of Christian Love during Pope's Visit to Korea
Religious Sisters in South Korea react to Pope Francis kissing a baby
Warm atmosphere during Holy Mass at Daejeon World Cup Stadium
Images inside Pope Francis flight to South Korea
The tombs of the early Christians
Missionaries of Africa, called "the White Fathers"
Italian youth give testimony after mission to Peru
Interview with Iraqi Ambassador to the Holy See on the persecution of Christians
New book 'The Vatican unknown'
A Look at India from Rome
3D Church mapping
#PAUSEforPeace Initiative
Dedicating art to San Juan de la Cruz
A state without territory elects new government
The renewal of the Legionaries of Christ
Presentation of the book "The Pastor"
Aug
23

Liturgical Calendar

August 23, 2014

Saturday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mt 23:1-12

Gospel
Date
08/23/14
08/22/14
08/19/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: Ezek 43: 1-7AB
First Reading:: Mt 23: 1-12

Saint of the Day

St. Rose of Lima »

Saint
Date
08/23/14
08/19/14

Homily of the Day

Mt 23:1-12

Homily
Date
08/23/14
08/22/14
08/19/14

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
     HTML
Text only
Headlines
  

Follow us: