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.