The Catholic Bishops of the United States called for a fourteen day period of prayer, study, teaching and public action to defend the first freedom, religious freedom. The move is unparalleled in US history. I believe the leadership of Cardinal Timothy Dolan and Archbishop William Lori, and all of the Bishops, will not only bring about the desired result but signals the beginning of a New Catholic Action in the United States.
In the Bishops words from their website dedicated to the Fortnight.
“The fourteen days from June 21-the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More-to July 4, Independence Day, are dedicated to this “fortnight for freedom”-a great hymn of prayer for our country.”
“Our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face of persecution by political power-St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More, St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome.”
“Culminating on Independence Day, this special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action emphasize both our Christian and American heritage of liberty. Dioceses and parishes around the country have scheduled special events that support a great national campaign of teaching and witness for religious liberty.”
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I have been involved at the intersection of faith and culture as a lawyer and an activist for the causes at the heart of the social mission of the Church, life, family, freedom and solidarity, for a long time. I have NEVER seen a concerted campaign of prayer, teaching and Catholic Action led by the US Bishops like this one.
I have also never seen such a response from the faithful, other Christians, other people of faith and other people of good will. It not only gives me great hope for the Church it makes me proud to be a Catholic. It is also a model for a New Catholic Action which could be applied across the spectrum of the effort to knead the true Social teaching of the Church into human culture. The Social teaching of the Church is not meant simply for Catholics, other Christians, or other religious people. It offers insights and principles for action which can help to build a truly just, human and free society for all men and women.
In the past, when one spoke of the “Social Teaching” of the catholic Church, it was found in the Natural Law and expounded upon in the Sacred Scriptures, the Christian tradition, the documents of the Second Vatican Council, contemporary encyclical letters, apostolic letters and exhortations as well as summarized in the Catholic Catechism. In 2004 the “Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace” released the “Compendium of the Social Doctrine of Church” which puts it all in one place.
Watch the video below and be inspired!
The Compendium is a necessity for any Catholic who wants to inform their political, cultural, economic and social participation properly. It is beautifully written, arranged in a very readable format, well indexed and thoroughly footnoted to the Scriptures, council documents, early Christian sources and magisterial teaching. It should be in every Catholic home. It should become the source book for any Catholic concerned about effective participation in the culture, the economic order and the political arena. The Compendium is the Manual for informing a New Catholic Action.
Due to some poor teaching in the arena of moral theology – of which the Social teaching is a branch – too many of the lay faithful have been confused on subjects of profound importance to living as Christians and acting as faithful citizens in the political, cultural and social spheres. It also led to people speaking as though “conscience” somehow equated with our “feelings” or was an aspect of our own personal opinion.