An initiative of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Sunday Pope Quote: Fortnight for Freedom edition

For today’s Sunday Pope Quote, seeing as we are in the midst of the Fortnight for Freedom, we’re revisiting an address given by Pope Benedict XVI to a group of visiting U.S. bishops on January 19, 2012. In it, he discusses threats to religious freedom and speaks specifically of the need for lay involvement in evangelizing the culture. In light of the connection between marriage and religious liberty, the Holy Father’s words are timely and much needed.

Pope Benedict XVI: 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. The preparation of committed lay leaders and the presentation of a convincing articulation of the Christian vision of man and society remain a primary task of the Church in your country; as essential components of the new evangelization, these concerns must shape the vision and goals of catechetical programs at every level.

Pope Benedict XVI, Address to the Bishops of the United States on their “Ad Limina” Visit, Rome (January 19, 2012)

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