Jeanette De Melo is the editor in chief for the Register. She recently became co-host to Register Radio along with Thom Price and Dan Burke. Before joining the Register staff in 2012, she served as the Archdiocese of Denver’s communications director, spokeswoman and general manager of the Denver Catholic Register, El Pueblo Católico, and the archdiocesan website. Prior to this position, she was the associate communications director for the Archdiocese of New Orleans, where in addition to managing media relations, she co-produced a weekly archdiocesan television program.
Archbishop Lori on Fortnight for Freedom
This week on Register Radio I talked with Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore. Aside from leading the nation’s first diocese, he’s the head of the U.S. bishops' ad hoc committee for religious freedom. Last year the committee authored Our First Most Cherished Liberty.
On May 16 Archbishop Lori celebrated his first anniversary as archbishop of Baltimore—a year, he said, was filled with many blessings.
“I have truly fallen in love with the archdiocese of Baltimore with its history and heritage being our nation’s first diocese,” said the archbishop. “The joy of the year has been to discover the warm heartedness of the priest of the archdiocese and its parishioners.”
However, it was also a year that posed some challenges — one of which was the legalization of same-sex 'marriage' in Maryland. The bishops of Maryland have warned of the threats of same-sex ‘marriage’ to religious liberty. In light of the expected ruling of Supreme Court on cases that would affect the Defense of Marriage Act and the legalization of same-sex ‘marriage’ throughout the country, I asked Archbishop Lori about these threats.
“The legalization of same-sex ‘marriage’, however it might come about and we pray it does not come about, poses a great threat to religious liberty below the surface.” said the archbishop, referencing foster care and adoption licensing, use of church facilities, and school curricula as areas of concern.
“Marriage and the notion of marriage is pervasive throughout federal and state laws so changing the definition of marriage is not only a small change but a sea change,” he explained
The threat of same-sex ‘marriage’ to religious liberty is only one of the challenges to freedom the nation is facing.The U.S. Bishops are pointing out other threats during the Fortnight for Freedom, being celebrated nationwide June 21 to July 4.
Archbishop Lori explained the focus of the Fortnight for Freedom, “It’s a two week period for prayer, study and reflection about religious liberty — what it is, why it important how it’s being threatened and how we can counter those threats.”
The Fortnight for Freedom begins with an opening mass at the nation’s first cathedral, The Basilica of the Assumption in Baltimore with a mass, for which Archbishop Lori will be the principle celebrant. And it ends at Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. That mass will be lead by Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C.
Around the nation, diocese will have masses, rallies, study groups, prayer services and other kinds of events to observe the fortnight, said Archbishop Lori. Last year nearly 80% of diocese participated in the two week event, according to Archbishop Lori in a recent interview with the Register’s Joan Frawley Desmond, in which he also spoke of some of the victories won on the religoius liberty front.
The Fortnight celebration includes the feast days of two great champions of religious liberty — St. John Fischer and St. Thomas More, noted the archbishop.
Said the Baltimore archbishop, the Fortnight for Freedom is about “planting the seeds of a movement of religious liberty just as the seeds were planted many years ago for the pro-life movement.”
The threats to freedom, he said, are not overt most of the time in the U.S. as they are in some countries, but they are very real. And thus, he said, “This is an opportunity to mobilize.”
Commencement Speakers at Catholic Universities
Dan Burke spoke with Patrick Reilly, president of the Cardinal Newman Society, about the good, the bad and the ugly with regards to 2013 commencement speakers at Catholic universities.
“The choice of a commencement speaker can say a lot about an institution’s priorities,” said Reilly.
The good news that emerged in this interview was that the majority of 2013 commencement speakers fell in the first category—they were in keeping with Catholic identity.
“Problems were much lower only 6 [speakers] were clearly problematic,” said Reilly, who expressed gratitude that so many institutions this year honored cardinals or bishops.
Among the bad and the ugly, he named the most scandalous situation at Boston College, where the speaker was Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny, who has supported new legislation in Ireland to legalize abortion. Register correspondent Justin Bell covered this story last week.
Among other problematic speakers mentioned by Cardinal Newman Society were: University of San Francisco who honored Barbara Garcia, St Edward’s University in Austin, Texas, who honored Maria Otero, and Santa Clara University who honored Leon Panetta. The Register staff writer Joe Pronechen also chronicled the best and the worst of commencement speakers at Catholic institutions in the article: Highlights and Concerns from Graduations Across the Country.
Said Reilly, “The question is not the judgment of the individual, that’s left to God. But certainly a Catholic institution ought not be publicly honoring these people. It gives scandal to their students and to the public.”
Asked about the basis of judgment of whether or not a Catholic university is faithful, Reilly said, “The authority is always with the Church,” and he noted the Church outlined what’s expected of a Catholic institution of higher education in the 1990 document Ex Corde Ecclesiae [From the Heart of the Church] by John Paul II on Catholic universities. According to the Cardinal Newman Society, “We are simply calling the Catholic university to adhere.”
Burke also asked Reilly about the expansion of Cardinal Newman’s Society to high schools. Reilly affirmed that the organization will begin to “work with high schools, just as we do with colleges, to strengthen Catholic identity.”
They are taking over and expanding the Acton Institute’s “honor roll” program, which recognizes stellar Catholic secondary schools.
“Our focus is on what are the indicators of an extraordinarily good Catholic high school and we do the same thing with colleges…what are the best of the best and trying to help others institutions to reach that same level,” said Reilly.