Today, Cardinal Wuerl celebrated the closing of the Fortnight for Religious Liberty in the United States. Here are a few words from his remarkable sermon. The full text may be read here.
In a society that encourages fascism, where we are told to shut up, and not speak our minds - albeit by society or even persons - we must speak up. To speak is part of being a freeman. It is also part of being Catholics: we must speak up to defend the Church, her rights, her dignity...
We should follow closely the Church in America's combat with the secular authorities. Given the weakness of the Church in Canada, her (in the main) very weak bishops - a surrender of Catholics in America will mark an acceleration of the decline of the Church in Canada. Fascism will not go away. It has to be resisted, fought against and destroyed. It is here. Fascism is back. We saw its vile triumphalism at the Gay Pride Parade, and the manner in which the Media pushed its cause.
In January 2012, Pope Benedict XVI explained to United States bishops in Rome the challenge to our culture of a “radical secularism which finds increasing expression in the political and cultural spheres.” He went on to highlight “of particular concern are certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of religion…The seriousness of these threats needs to be clearly appreciated at every level of ecclesial life.”
The Holy Father’s answer to this “radical secularism” and “denial of rights” is, as he explained, “an engaged, articulate and well-formed Catholic laity endowed with a strong critical sense vis-à-vis the dominant culture and with the courage to counter a reductive secularism.” And here you are!
Your faith is a remedy for what ails our society. The mission of all of us, but particularly of the laity is to engage the culture with the Good News that only comes from Jesus Christ.
This may seem daunting, but remember, we are a people of hope. It is why Blessed John Paul II called for the New Evangelization and why Pope Benedict XVI carried this call into the new millennium, and why Pope Francis is such an example of living faith with courage and serenity. We know that while we must still defend our freedom, Christ has already won the final victory.
In a moment, we will celebrate Holy Mass. At each Mass, we remember and celebrate who we are as Catholics. We gather around the table of the Lord to receive the gift of the Eucharist, just as the Apostles gathered around Jesus at the Last Supper. The Paschal Mystery of Jesus’ suffering, death on the cross and Resurrection is made real to us, here and now, and then we go out to the world to share that gift of Jesus’ new life and his love.
That new life in Christ, that living out of our faith, is reflected not only in our worship and in our personal acts of charity, but in our Church’s educational, health care and social ministry outreach. Those works, those acts of faith, are threatened whenever our religious freedom is eroded.
Before I elevate the consecrated host and the chalice of Jesus’ blood, we are all on our knees together. Let us thank our Lord for the gift of life and for the freedom to love and worship our God. Pray that through the power of the Holy Spirit we may be his witnesses.
In the presence of our Lord we will kneel. There is a time to be on one’s knees. There is also a time when we need to stand — to stand up.