Pope Benedict XVI addressed the bishops of Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and the archdiocese for the Military Services this morning at the Vatican, speaking to them about the role of religious freedom in the life and history of the United States of America. In light of the connection between protecting marriage and protecting religious freedom, we thought it would be helpful to highlight a selection of the Holy Father’s comments below (note: all emphases below are added):
“At the heart of every culture, whether perceived or not, is a consensus about the nature of reality and the moral good, and thus about the conditions for human flourishing. In America, that consensus, as enshrined in your nation’s founding documents, was grounded in a worldview shaped not only by faith but a commitment to certain ethical principles deriving from nature and nature’s God.”
The Pope went on to identify the current crisis: “Today that consensus has eroded significantly in the face of powerful new cultural currents which are not only directly opposed to core moral teachings of the Judeo-Christian tradition, but increasingly hostile to Christianity as such. For her part, the Church in the United States is called, in season and out of season, to proclaim a Gospel which not only proposes unchanging moral truths but proposes them precisely as the key to human happiness and social prospering (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 10).”
Pope Benedict XVI identified the Catholic Church’s role in the public sphere: “The Church’s witness, then, is of its nature public: she seeks to convince by proposing rational arguments in the public square. The legitimate separation of Church and State cannot be taken to mean that the Church must be silent on certain issues, nor that the State may choose not to engage, or be engaged by, the voices of committed believers in determining the values which will shape the future of the nation.”
The Holy Father noted that “Our tradition does not speak from blind faith, but from a rational perspective which links our commitment to building an authentically just, humane and prosperous society to our ultimate assurance that the cosmos is possessed of an inner logic accessible to human reasoning.”
He concluded, “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. […] Of particular concern are certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of religion.”
Read the Holy Father’s address here.