Dear Brothers and Sisters,

"We are Catholics. We are Americans. We are proud to be both, grateful for the gift of faith which is ours as Christian disciples, and grateful for the gift of liberty which is ours as American citizens. To be Catholic and American should mean not having to choose one over the other. Our allegiances are distinct, but they need not be contradictory, and should instead be complementary. That is the teaching of our Catholic faith, which obliges us to work together with fellow citizens for the common good of all who live in this land. That is the vision of our founding and our Constitution, which guarantees citizens of all religious faiths the right to contribute to our common life together. "  USCCB

 

This month we celebrated the freedom of our great nation.  We are called, by our bishops, to pray fervently for our religious freedom. We have a constitutional right to our freedom of religion. I want to remind you that we have more than a right to “freedom of worship.” Freedom of worship as a concept, limits our expression of faith to the inside of our four church walls. The sentiment is that we can say what we want inside those walls but not in the public sphere.

 

Freedom of religion is much broader than just the freedom to worship privately.  We are called by Jesus to reach out into the world and to love people and to proclaim the Gospel.  This means that our Catholic hospitals, adoption agencies, food pantries, soup kitchens, and many other extensions of faith should be protected by our constitutional right to freedom of religion.  Our nurses and doctors have a right to exercise their practices without violating their consciences.  This means that even though abortion is legal, they shouldn’t be forced to participate in that.  As it stands now, many health professionals in our country have had to do just that not just with abortion but with many other ethical issues.   Let us continue to pray for our Church that we may have the liberty to be proud and faithful Catholics and Americans.

 

In the Heart of Christ,

Fr. Dusty Burns