Catholic Diocese of Wilmington

Most Rev. W. Francis Malooly Fortnight for Freedom Closing Mass Text

The following is the text of the homily given by Bishop Malooly at the Mass to close out the 2013 Fortnight for Freedom at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Wilmington, Delaware on July 4, 2013.

We celebrate our freedom, our liberty from sin every time we stand around this altar. It was through Jesus death and resurrection that we have been saved and freed.  Today we also celebrate our freedom as a country from oppression.  Our ancestors sacrificed wealth, stature, homes, family on our behalf.  Most revolutionaries have little to lose. They had much.  I read years ago a small work by Paul Harvey, Our Lives, Our Fortunes, Our Sacred Honor.  He tried to convey a sense of how much our ancestors sacrificed.  In his book he tells us there were 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence.  Liberty was more important to them then security. Five were captured, tortured and died.  Twelve had homes sacked, looted and burned.  Nine died in the war.  They were men of means, rich men who enjoyed much ease and luxury.  They were wealthy land owners.  Twenty four were lawyers or judges.  Nine owned large plantations.  They said in their statement “For the support of this declaration with a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.”  We celebrate a double liberty today - freedom here and freedom to enter heaven.  But we need to still struggle and pray for the continuation of our religious freedom. In our Gospel Jesus tells us to render to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.  We help Caesar and our government a great deal – education, Catholic Charities, our hospitals, here our Ministry of Caring.  And this is good that we do.  But we need to hold the line.   

We do our part, but we must continue to demand religious freedom as our founders did. Religious liberty is a fundamental human right rooted in the dignity of the human person and is our most cherished liberty.  As the First Amendment to our Constitution, it is the foundation of all our freedoms, for if Americans are not free to exercise our consciences and practice our religious faith then all our freedoms are fragile.

Today, religious freedom is threatened in many ways.  The HHS mandate will require religious believers to go against their consciences.  It is a violation of our rights;  it violates our Constitution and is illegal and unjust.  We also see threats to religious freedom in the implementation of same-sex marriage laws.  The federal government’s requirement that Catholics violate our pro-life beliefs in order to retain government contracts threatens the good work that the church does to  help victims of human trafficking.  It is a disturbing pattern of First Amendment violations.

When religious liberty is threatened, it is our obligation to speak out.  As the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us, “it is necessary that all participate, according to his position and role, in promoting the common good.  This is inherent in the dignity of the human person … As far as possible citizens should take an active part in public life.” 

Today I am here at our Cathedral to thank all of you for your prayers during this Fortnight, for the Masses, the homilies, the Holy Hours and the Prayer Services.  I thank all throughout the entire diocese who have contributed to this prayerful time.

Once again today we commemorate the establishment of independence for our nation founded on principles of religious freedom for all.  As our opening prayer stated “we recall the day when our country claimed its place among the family of nations: for what has been achieved we give you thanks, for the work that still remains we ask your help.”  I thank you for your prayer and support during this Fortnight and I ask you to continue your prayer for the work that still remains.

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