Delivering the homily at the Fortnight for Freedom Mass earlier this week, Archbishop Thomas Wenski invoked the martyrdoms of Sts. Thomas More and John Fisher as increasingly relevant in today's culture of intolerance toward Christianity. Speaking at the Little Flower Church in Coral Gables, Archbishop Wenski described the two martyrs as "men for our season."
"Today, a regime of 'political correctness' wishes to impose itself on us and force us to conform ourselves, our values and our beliefs to the ascendant secularism of our time," he said.
The original Fortnight for Freedom in 2011 was created in light of the Obama administration's increasing intolerance of religious liberty as seen in newly instituted rules such as the HHS Mandate which forces Christian employers to only provide insurance policies which provide for abortifacients, contraceptives, and sterilization procedures. The Fortnight is also an explicit appeal to Christians live out their faith more fully. The Fortnight has been widely criticized by many on the left and the media. (Redundancy alert.) But Archbishop Wenski had words for the critics of the Fortnight for Freedom which began on the feast days of John Fisher and Thomas More and will end on the 4th of July.
If anyone thinks that religious freedom is not under assault in our world today, or that our concerns are a bit overwrought, I would remind you of the ongoing genocide against Christians in the Middle East. We have seen on our evening news programs images of Christians beheaded, crucified or burned alive in cages simply because they professed what Peter professed in today’s Gospel: that Jesus is the “Christ of God.”
In the second decade of the 21st century, some 150,000 Christians are killed for their faith every year. Like St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher, and like Sts. Peter and Paul, St. John the Baptist and the first martyrs of Rome, whose feast days the Church observes during these last days of June, these modern-day martyrs are victims of a despotism in its hardest and harshest form. Yet, in this country and in other liberal democracies, people of faith are being increasingly subjected to a soft despotism in which ridicule, ostracism, and denial of employment opportunities for advancement are being used to marginalize us. We see this when butchers and bakers and candlestick-makers are being put into the legal dock for refusing to renounce their religious beliefs.
A new religious intolerance is being established in our country. We see this when Christian pastors are stalked and threatened for being “Christian” pastors, when social scientists are expelled from universities for having turned up “politically incorrect” facts, when charitable organizations and confessional schools are harassed if they take seriously their faith’s moral precepts and require their employees to support their missions. We see this in the refusal of the Administration to accommodate Catholic institutions and businesses because of their conscientious objection to subsidizing contraception and abortions.
There is no mistaking the fact that Christianity is under attack in this country. Even tragedies having nothing to do with Christianity are laid at our doorstep. All the media and some others could talk about in the wake of the Orlando tragedy was "homophobia" in Christianity.
But, Wenski countered their accusations by saying, "Christians who support traditional marriage did not kill 49 people. Omar Mateen did. Religion and freedom of religion did not enable the killing and the maiming that we witnessed last Sunday. An evil ideology which is a corruption of Islam did."
He said that by blaming Christianity for that tragedy we are making "truth another casualty."
He also pointed to CNN's Anderson Cooper and the New York Times for sliming believers in the wake of the tragedy. But he also had some pointed words for Bishop Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg who shocked many by calling out Catholicism itself for a role in the Orlando shooting. Bishop Lynch had reportedly said, "Sadly it is religion, including our own, which targets, mostly verbally, and also often breeds contempt for gays, lesbians and transgender people. Attacks today on LGBT men and women often plant the seed of contempt, then hatred, which can ultimately lead to violence."
Without mentioning Bishop Lynch by name, Abp. Wenski made it clear he did not agree:
CNN's Anderson Cooper rejects Pam Bondi's expressions of sympathy because she opposed same sex marriage. The New York Times editorialized that the victims were 'casualties of a society where hate has deep roots.' They weren't talking about ISIS's caliphate but America. And one bishop who should know better even opined, and I quote: 'It is religion, including our own which targets…and often breeds contempt for gays, lesbians and transgendered people.'
Where in our faith, where in our teachings — I ask you — do we target and breed contempt for any group of people? In today’s second reading, St. Paul teaches us: “Through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus. There is neither Jew nor Greek… there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Our faith, our religion gives no comfort, no sanction to a racist, or a misogynist, or a homophobe.
Sadly, it seems we all know that things aren't about to get easier in this country or around the world for Christians.
But we are called to follow Christ no matter what the world threatens or entices us with.
"Yet, even in the face of a growing intolerance of religion, we must as Catholics give witness," Abp. Wenski said. "To fail to do so would be to fail in the charity we owe our neighbor."
With the Fortnight for Freedom we at once honor the memories of Thomas More and John Fisher, invoke their intercession, and pray that our culture doesn't continue its march towards intolerance.
HT You can read the full homily at the Archdiocese of Miami's website. It's worth a read if you have the time.