Fortnight For Freedom

Standing in New York Harbor, the Statue of Liberty is one of our most beloved landmarks, both as New Yorkers and as Americans.  So many of our ancestors fondly recalled seeing Lady Liberty, their first vision of a new homeland.  Many of them told the story of seeing her for the first time, and not a few of them had to pause in retelling it because of a lump in their throat or a tear in their eye.

Even those of us who were born in America cherish the Statue of Liberty, and, even more importantly, what it stands for.  Who indeed can fail to be moved by the line from Emma Lazarus’ famous poem:

“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”

That atmosphere of liberty is so much a part of the American experience and heritage.  Of course, most of us did not have to travel far and suffer hardship to glimpse the torch of the Statue, and to embrace her promise of freedom.  Most newcomers today do not come by ship, and so never set eyes upon her.  We New Yorkers, frequently in a rush to our next destination, don’t even look out into the Harbor very often.

So it would be easy for us to take the Statue of Liberty for granted, as just another landmark for tourists to visit.  And it would be all too easy to forget how precious — and fragile — is that breath of freedom that our forerunners yearned for so ardently.  This desire for freedom was written into the human heart by God, and exalted in God’s word in the Bible.  It is expressed so powerfully in the founding documents of our nation, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.  It is the ideal to which all our national institutions aspire, and which they are bound to protect and respect.  It is for freedom that so many of our brothers and sisters have been willing to sacrifice their lives to defend.

I don’t wish to push this analogy too far, but in recent years it has become a bit more difficult to “breathe free” as deeply as we would like.  The atmosphere is not quite so clear and mild any more.  Our liberty — like clean air — isn’t something we can take for granted.

This is the reason that the Bishops of the United States have called upon all Catholics, and all people of good will, to spend the days from June 21 through July 4 as a Fortnight for Freedom.  These fourteen days are designed to raise awareness and to encourage action on a number of the current challenges to religious liberty.  These include:

  • The HHS mandate, which presumes to intrude upon the very definition of faith and ministry, and could cause believers to violate their consciences.
  • Impending Supreme Court rulings that could redefine marriage, which will present a host of difficulties to institutions and people who stand on their faith-based understanding of authentic marriage as between one man and one woman
  • Proposed legislation at the national and state levels that would expand abortion rights, legalize assisted suicide, restrict immigrants from full participation in society, and limit the ability of Church agencies to provide humanitarian services.
  • Government intrusion into the rights and duties of parents regarding their children.
  • Overt persecution of believers in many countries of the world.

My brother bishops and I are encouraging people to offer prayers to God, the source of our freedom, that we may fully enjoy the liberty that was sought by those who came to our shores.  We are also urging practical action to defend our freedom.

Our two weeks begin tomorrow, June 21, and include moving feasts, such as June 22, the feast of Saint Thomas More and Saint John Fisher, both martyrs in England as they prophetically defended the rights of the Church against intrusion by the crown; June 24, the Birth of Saint John the Baptist, the one who defended God’s law to a tyrant and lost his head because of his courage; and, of course, Independence Day.

We must never forget the power of the American promise, which was passed on to us by our ancestors, and which we hold in trust for generations to come.

And, like Lady Liberty, may we always be proud to lift high the torch of freedom and hope to those who yearn for it today.

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4 Responses to “Fortnight For Freedom”

  1. DottyDay says:

    Nice ideas. Unfortunately the torch of freedom is flickering and almost out. Our nation, including 54% of Catholics, made a turn toward a false idol, not once but twice. My hope is in Divine intervention, God’s forgiveness and the promise of mercy if we repent and do his will. Every day it gets worse and worse. I wish I could be as upbeat as you.

  2. Robert Fox says:

    Dear Cardinal Dolan:

    I’ve heard of some bishops mis-using this quote attributed to Cardinal George about ‘dying in his bed… his successor dying in prison and that successor’s – successor dying a martyr in the public square’. It is really a kind of cop out since a courageous bishop TODAY could save the lives of a large number of bishops and faithful 2 generations from now. Such a man could, moreover, save many souls TODAY!

    The so called “power of the American promise”, at least that part of it which is rooted in French Revolutionary type thinking is completely opposed to the Catholic notion of a God who demands sacrifice and who gives perfect sacrifice in the most precious thing we have on Earth… the Holy sacrifice of Mass.. This is why Freemasonry has such a hold on our media, government, educational and even many Catholic institutions. This Freemasonic thinking thrives here because it is met with a frightened or conciliatory attitude by most churchmen today… and this accounts for the weakening of the Catholic position in the public square. It is no accident… but rather it is the result of comfort.

    I will participate in the Fortnight of Freedom as will my parish. BUT… with the SURE knowledge that the only way to prevent that eventual bishop and layman from dying two generations from now is for the bishops of TODAY to do more than just create programs and campaigns… good as those might be. Only when bishops stand up together and defend the Eucharist against to profanation and scandal caused by pro abortion Catholics (who present themselves routinely for holy communion) will anyone take the Catholic Church seriously (Catholic or non). Only when Bishops begin to really teach LOUDLY and CLEARLY against the evils of contraception… and instruct their priests to do the same… will anything good come from shepherding. A little pain, persecution and legal hassle now WILL prevent the colossal colossus 2 generations from now. Please think about it. The judgement of future generations will look upon today’s episcopacy and have much to say. It may not bee too good.

    vty Robert Fox, Richmond, VA

  3. Joan says:

    Your Excellency, I keep thinking that like other major issues, the federal administration would just like the cause for our religious freedoms to just go away with time, to fall under the radar of our mass media. Our concern for the possible implementation of the HHS mandate is just as important as it was a year ago but now we are in a time crunch. I attend daily Mass. I pray for our religious liberties every morning as part of my intentions. My prayer is that God will change the hearts of our political leaders and legislators that they may follow the Lord’s Commandments and Beatitudes.

    I am concerned as we reach this government deadline for the mandate. I am sure the Bishops must have a plan as inspired by the Holy Spirit but I have read nothing about what Catholics who want to be in compliance with God’s rules for morality and conscience should do.

    Meanwhile, all of us should continue to pray.

  4. Tiffany J Gallozzi says:

    Your Excellency, in the statement given by the USCCB after the Supreme Court’s decision on marriage you said:

    “Now that the Supreme Court has issued its decisions, with renewed purpose we call upon all of our leaders and the people of this good nation to stand steadfastly together in promoting and defending the unique meaning of marriage: one man, one woman, for life.”

    How do we do this? It seems almost moot in consideration of the courts and their ability to redefine law so that sin becomes a right. I doesn’t appear that the leaders and good people of our nation will hold any weight against the liberal opponents of truth.