Following is an excerpt of Most Reverend William F. Lori’s Homily at the Mass for Life and Liberty:
For some time now, both life and liberty have been under assault by an overarching, godless secularism, replete with power and money but sadly lacking in wisdom, both human and divine; a secularism that relentlessly seeks to marginalize the place of faith in our society.
In rejecting the wisdom of religious faith, in seeking to contain and diminish it, secularism has, at the same time, foolishly devalued human life. When man and woman are no longer perceived to be created in the image of God, then, sooner or later, their lives and their liberties become dispensable.
Asserting its power over what reason, science, and faith tell us about the humanity of the unborn child, secular culture for the past 40 years has assailed innocent human life thru abortion, made legal by the infamous 1973 Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade, a decision which Justice Byron White called “an exercise of raw judicial power.”
Since then over 50 million unborn children have lost their lives through abortion and now the secularist assault on human life threatens the chronically and terminally ill and the frail elderly by the promotion of laws in various states to legalize physician-assisted suicide.
Human life is further undermined by the dismantling of the most fundamental unit of society, the family, by seeking to upend marriage as a God-given institution that is unique for a reason, namely, as a relationship of love between one man and one woman whereby children are welcomed into the world and nurtured.
All these things have been done in the name of freedom of choice, the right to choose. It was said that those who want an abortion should have the right to do so, and that such a choice would not affect those who conscientiously object to abortion.
But now that is changing and the HHS preventive services rule is a harbinger for that change.
Increasingly, anti-life and anti-family rules are being imposed on people of faith.
Our “right to choose” – our right to choose to practice the faith we profess – a right guaranteed by the 1st Amendment – seems to mean little or nothing to many who wield power.
As all of us know, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a rule which will require most private and religious employers to fund and facilitate abortion-inducing drugs, sterilizations, and contraception against their convictions if they engage in hiring or offer services deemed by the government to be “secular”.
Indeed, many of the secularist threats to religious liberty seem to hinge on the Church’s teaching with regard to the sanctity of human life – whether it’s the Church’s teaching on the immorality of abortion, or the obligation of couples to be open to the gift of new human life, or marriage as between one man and one woman as the unique relationship that begets new human life and is meant to be the matrix in which it is nurtured.
The God Who Gave Us Life Gave Us Liberty
Whatever his religious or philosophical leanings, Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, wrote these words of wisdom in 1774: ‘The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time; the hand of force may destroy but cannot disjoin them.’
His words affirm that the God-given gifts of life and liberty are linked, morally, intellectually, and legally.
Our country was founded on this tradition: a tradition of rights to life and liberty “endowed by our Creator”.
Such rights exist independent of the state and the state has no legitimate power to deny or undermine those rights.
Once the humanity of any group of human beings is denied, then the rights of all, including our most precious freedom, the freedom of religion, are imperiled.
This is the drama that is now unfolding before us.
This is why, during a time of national decision and at the outset of a Year of Faith, we have gathered to seek the prayers of Mary our Mother, the Seat of Wisdom, so that we might have the wisdom we need to defend God’s gifts of life and liberty.
Indeed, wisdom tells us that the decisions facing us these days aren’t just economic, rather they go to the very heart of who we are and our freedom to put into practice what we know to be true.
… The freedom for which we are advocating is the freedom of churches to go about their mission of serving the needs of society in accord with their teaching, a mission of educating the young, building up family life, serving the poor, providing good health care, and much, much more.
With charity, civility, and persistence, ‘whether in season and out of season’, we must insist on the Church’s right and the rights of individuals to put our God-given liberties at the service of human life, without the government’s forcing us to disobey our own teaching by fining our institutions or by taking away their accreditation, by penalizing private employers with conscientious objections, or any of the other means the government has at its disposal.
As believers and as citizens we must robustly engage in the political process by voting with a properly formed conscience and by continually letting our elected officials know that we expect them to protect the God-given rights of life and liberty, Yes, wisdom tells us that the decisions facing us these days aren’t just economic!
By wisely using our freedom for the good, by placing our most precious freedom, religious liberty, at the service of life, we are recognizing that a culture of life is also a culture of freedom, and, that a culture of death is a culture of oppression, indeed a dictatorship of relativism.
Mary is the new Eve, the new mother of all the living because she is the Mother of Wisdom Incarnate, the Lord Jesus, who in revealing the Father’s love has revealed us to ourselves.
Through her intercession, may we be given the wisdom, courage, & strength we need to employ our God-given liberty to protect life, to strengthen the family, and to continue contributing mightily to the common good of society for the good of our nation, for the up-building of the Church, and for the salvation of souls.
May God bless us and keep us always in his love!
You can see and hear the Most Reverend Archbishop Lori present his full homily that was recorded and aired by Mother Angelica’s EWTN broadcasting service by clicking here → Archbishop Lori’s Mass for Life and Liberty Homily 14 October 2012 A.D. at the Basilica of the National Shrine of The Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.
Or, you can read a transcript of the Homily at the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s website (www.archbalt.org)