This quote is from a Catholic man speaking to other Catholic men, but his message is for all of us, regardless of gender or faith or state in life. Remember what kind of freedom we as Americans have been able to enjoy; don’t leave the future to others; know when and how to talk back when conscience rights are threatened.
In the early days of Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate, some American bishops visited Pope Benedict XVI. Benedict knew about the mandate already. In his formal remarks to the bishops, he said that lay women and men – everyday people – have to step up. That’s not just about Catholics. Did you know the owners of Hobby Lobby identify themselves as evangelical Christians, and the owners of Conestoga Wood Products are Mennonites? They’re the ones who prevailed at the Supreme Court. They knew what Benedict was talking about, even if they never heard him speak.
In the light of these considerations, it is imperative that the entire Catholic community in the United States come to realize the grave threats to the Church’s public moral witness presented by a radical secularism which finds increasing expression in the political and cultural spheres. The seriousness of these threats needs to be clearly appreciated at every level of ecclesial life. Of particular concern are certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of religion. Many of you have pointed out that concerted efforts have been made to deny the right of conscientious objection on the part of Catholic individuals and institutions with regard to cooperation in intrinsically evil practices. Others have spoken to me of a worrying tendency to reduce religious freedom to mere freedom of worship without guarantees of respect for freedom of conscience. Here once more we see the need for 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 which would delegitimize the Church’s participation in public debate about the issues which are determining the future of American society.