Posted by: Fr Chris | January 21, 2012

Challenges to the Catholic Church: where will we stand?

P0pe Benedict surprised visiting American bishops with his speech deploring the spread of secularist influence in the US. The bishops were those from our capital city, the military archdiocese, and the Mid-Atlantic region.  He is obviously disturbed by more than the harshness of Secretary Sibelius.

Is the growth of secularism doing this now? When a culture attempts to suppress the dimension of ultimate mystery, and to close the doors to transcendent truth, it inevitably becomes impoverished and falls prey, as the late Pope John Paul II  so clearly saw, to reductionist and totalitarian readings of the human person and the nature of society.

And to those Catholics and secularists who want the Church restricted to the altar and sermons that do not touch on the issues of the day:

 The legitimate separation of Church and State cannot be taken to mean that the Church must be silent on certain issues, nor that the State may choose not to engage, or be engaged by, the voices of committed believers in determining the values which will shape the future of the nation.

Perhaps having grown up in the Third Reich which set out to destroy Christianity, and watching the Communist campaigns in the other half of  Europe push religion into “the altar and sacristy” he might have some real insights into the topic? Darn right he does!

We can never give up our vigilance. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently spoke of guaranteeing freedom of worship instead of freedom of religion, and it took President Obama years to appoint an ambassador for religious rights.  They are – perhaps unwittingly – paving the way for this,  at a time when it is obvious that religious beliefs are paramount for most of the world’s population!

Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, our patroness, pray for us to fulfill our duties to your Son!

All you martyrs under communism and fascism, pray for us to be strong!

O Jesus, Who came to us so humbly and loved us to the end, and show us the way to eternal life, help us to proclaim Your Name and our Faith always!



Read his speech here in a news story :    OR the complete text here:




  1. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently spoke of guaranteeing freedom of worship instead of freedom of religion

    The Secretary has used these terms interchangabily while the context of her remarks makes it clear she is for an expansive view of religious freedom.

    Ronald Reagan, however, seemed to consistently use the phrase “freedom of worship.”

    • Sorry for dated reply. I thought I had done this. I disagree that they are interchangeable. In diplomatic language, freedom of religion means exactly that – freedom for a religion’s full range of activities. Freedom of worship means only “cultic functions”, i.e. divine worship and the few things directly affiliated with that. This is the distinction still in China and Cuba. Freedom of worship, then, for a Secretary of State to say, dramatically curtails what a religion’s adherents can do.

  2. Fully reflecting on and analyzing the meanings and implications of the terms, you are 100% right. But to insist that when people like President Reagan or Secretary Clinton use these terms in common speech they are purposely asserting a limited view of freedom I think is unproven and uncharitable. If one could cite meaningful examples in American foreign policy which suggest a pattern, that might be different.

    “Politically correct speech” can be a positive thing when it asks us to put some more thought in terms we use out of habit or because they are common forms of speech. But “PC” speech is not helpful when we brow-beat everyone (or select people like the Secretary while giving a pass to Reagan), suggesting their “not PC” language is some detailed philosophical assertion.

    • My apologies for not responding – my health got out of control for a while.

      I think that the use of freedom of worship is a phrase that diplomats know is important. It was so common in the Soviet era, and continues today in Indochina and Cuba and China. I guess that we will have to wait and see how this continues to develop, and if it was a one-time blip, that would be just great. Thanks a lot for reading, and posting intelligent comments.

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