Wednesday 7th October 2015

Home » Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

Fortnight For Freedom . . . The Redemption Of Jesus Christ Sets Us Free

July 9, 2014 Our Catholic Faith No Comments


(Editor’s Note: Bishop James Conley of Lincoln, Neb., gave this homily at an ecumenical prayer service for religious liberty at Zion Church in Lincoln on Friday, June 27, 2014. After the prayer service, representatives of the Diocese of Lincoln, the Nebraska Family Alliance, and faculty members for the University of Nebraska conducted a roundtable discussion on religious liberty.
(Bishop Conley delivered this homily only days before the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores Inc.
(The Diocese of Lincoln kindly granted The Wanderer reprint permission for Bishop Conley’s homily. All rights reserved.)

+    +    +

Pastor Kearns, dear brother priests and clergy members, dear brothers and sisters in Christ.
It is a privilege to come together today with you to pray for the good of religious liberty. I am grateful, Pastor Kearns, that you are hosting us. And I am grateful to the Nebraska Family Alliance, and Greg Schleppenbach, for helping us to arrange this prayer service.
Today, we pray together as disciples of Jesus Christ for the good of our nation, and the good of religious believers around the world.
King David says in Psalm 133: “How good it is when brothers dwell in unity.” Today, we dwell in unity with one another — the unity of our common Baptism, our common redemption, and our common need for the freedom that comes in the salvation of Jesus Christ.
In the redemption of Jesus Christ, we’re set free from the chains of sin that enslave us. In the redemption of Jesus Christ, we’re set free to live in the world as sons and daughters of God the Father — set free to worship, to work, and to pray as disciples. In Christ, no matter the circumstances of our daily lives, we’re freed — and in Him we’ll enjoy an eternal life of real liberty. In eternity, we’ll possess the freedom for the highest kind of human activity, the worship of the Blessed Trinity.
The freedom promised to us by Jesus Christ assures that no matter how we fare in this world, He alone, in eternity, will be victorious. It’s important to remember that. We needn’t be discouraged in temporary defeats.
But it’s also important to remember that what happens in this world matters. The freedom Christ confers on us: the fundamental freedom God gives us in creation — is for our vocations in this world — lived out now, in our real lives.
We’re set free by Christ so that we can know Him, love Him, and serve Him. We’re set free by Christ so that we can be instruments of his divine Providence. We’re set free by Christ for our sake, but also for the sake of the poor, the marginalized, the unborn, and the lonely.
We are set free by Christ so that we can love as God loves.
Freedom is the responsibility to choose goodness over profit, or comfort, or consequence. As the Letter of St. James says, freedom is the responsibility to “be doers of the word, not hearers only.” We are praying today for religious liberty. But we should also pray that we each use the liberty we’ve been given to be good disciples of Jesus Christ.
Our freedom is a grace. But it is also a tremendous responsibility.

An Abolitionist

In my own mind, the preeminent Christian hymn to freedom is John Newton’s Amazing Grace. All of us know the lyrics. Grace, recalls Newton, sets free captives, brings sight to the blind, and brings sinners to the freedom of eternal life with God. Some of you may know something about its author. John Newton was a sailor on slave ships that ran between Africa, England, and the Caribbean, in what Eric Metaxas called the “Triangle of Death.”
He was a believer — he had become a Christian during a shipwreck in his youth. But shipwreck conversions sometimes lack depth, and Newton’s might have. He gave up gambling, and drinking, and profanity, but for years after his conversion, he continued in the slave trade.
The Lord transformed John Newton’s heart. Slaves had made him wealthy. They’d given his family great opportunities. They’d funded his studies in theology, and allowed him to become an Anglican priest. Comfort and profit blinded John Newton. But the Lord worked in Newton’s heart. And eventually, his eyes were opened to truth.
John Newton became an abolitionist, and a mentor to William Wilberforce. His influence led to the 1807 Slave Trade Act, which began the process of abolition in the British Empire. Through Christ, John Newton brought justice to the world. He loved, in a real sense, with the merciful love of God.
Grace sets captives free. And freedom is the grace to know the fullness of truth, and to respond.

The Darkness Of Sin

Our religious liberty has the potential to transform the world. God may well use the Christians of our generation to end the shame of abortion. In the power of the Holy Spirit, we may well restore the family, and protect marriage, and bring peace to the poor. If we work together in the Holy Spirit, Christians can be the hands and feet of our redeemer.
Is it any wonder that religious liberty has so many enemies? Should we be surprised that the freedom to live as Christians is under attack?
The human freedom to choose goodness is a great threat to the chaotic injustice of the Devil. The darkness of sin has no greater enemy than those who carry the light of Christ.
In Massachusetts, and D.C., and Illinois, Christian adoption agencies have been shut down in the name of “tolerance.” In Colorado, believers have been barred by law from respecting the natural law of marriage. In several states, providing care to undocumented immigrants — to children even — has been outlawed.
And today, or perhaps Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether Christians have the right to bring the faith into their business administration. Churches, and hospitals, and universities are still being threatened.
All of these threats are coming to the state of Nebraska. We are not immune from the great force of secularization that is reshaping the moral landscape of our nation.
Of course, Christian persecution in our nation pales in the face of the threats believers face around the world. In the Middle East, and Asia, and Africa, Christians are still beaten, and tortured, and crucified. This is happening today. Right now.
Our religious liberty is threatened because of the tremendous influence religious believers can have on the world. Persecution is a force of evil.
Pope Francis says that religious persecution is the “great challenge of the globalized world, a sickness, in which weak thought even reduces the general ethical level, in the name of a false concept of tolerance that ends up persecuting those who defend the truth on humanity and its ethical consequences.”
Religious liberty is threatened by those who would use government as a tool for tyranny, for oppression, and for the triumph of hedonistic self-interest. But the best solution to the threats we face is to do the opposite — to live active, joyful, just lives as Christian citizens.
As followers of Jesus Christ, we’re called to make disciples of all nations. And if we actually commit to doing that, we’ll overcome the forces of secularization and hedonism. The greatest response to the threats we face is a commitment to real evangelization.
Pope Francis said last week that “every human is a ‘seeker’ of truth on his origins and destiny. In his mind and in his ‘heart,’ questions and thoughts arise that cannot be repressed or stifled, since they emerge from the depths of the person and are a part of the intimate essence of the person. They are religious questions, and religious freedom is necessary for them to manifest themselves fully.”
Men and women enslaved by sin are searching for truth. The truth is knowable. Jesus Christ is the truth. And the way. And the life. If we are witnesses to that fact, then the slavery which threatens religious liberty stands no chance. If we use our freedom to choose the goodness calls us to, our freedom will beget more freedom. Our love will always beget more love.
St. Paul says that we must not be “conformed to this world.” He tells the Romans that we must be “transformed, by the renewal our minds.” Today we are here to renew our minds — to deepen our understanding of God’s plan for us — and our understanding of real, divine freedom.
May we understand freedom. May we exercise it. And may Christ use us each to transform the world.

Share Button

Comment on this Article:

Untitled 3

Pope FrancisAn Open Letter To His Holiness Pope Francis      Given the controversy and confusion surrounding the 2014 Synod on the Family, the staff of The Wanderer and its supporters thought it appropriate to address Pope Francis with an open letter . . .

Synod Showdown Report—October 5, 2015

We’re just out of the first press briefing of the Synod 2015, and things have pretty much picked up where they ended last year. The lead story, if you want to say there’s a lead to this, was a question…Continue Reading

Gov. Brown signs controversial assisted-suicide bill

Caught between conflicting moral arguments, Gov. Jerry Brown, a former Jesuit seminary student, signed a measure Monday allowing physicians to prescribe lethal doses of drugs to terminally ill patients who want to hasten their deaths. Brown appeared to struggle in…Continue Reading

Someone is Lying About the Pope’s Meeting with Kim Davis

Papal spokesman Father Thomas Rosica flatly denies Kim Davis met privately with Pope Francis when he visited Washington, D.C. which stands in flat contradiction to Davis’s claims. In Roscia’s telling Davis was part of a large number of people as…Continue Reading

Top Universities Defend Research Using Body Parts From Aborted Babies

Some of America’s top universities have signed a letter urging states not to support legislation that would ban the sale of aborted babies for research. The letter comes after ten videos surfaced exposing Planned Parenthood’s organ harvesting business, along with…Continue Reading

Catholic Hospitals Sued For Refusing Emergency Care To Pregnant Women

The American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday announced that it is suing Trinity Health Corporation, which operates 80 hospitals nationwide, for refusing to provide pregnant women suffering from life-threatening emergency complications with abortions. Trinity Health hospitals have “repeatedly and systematically…Continue Reading

Too Scared to Pray? ISIL Cancels Prayers for Fear of Russian Airstrikes

The Islamic State terror group cancelled Friday prayers in the Syrian city of Raqqa and emptied mosques there out of fear of further Russian airstrikes, according to activists and city residents. According to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights,…Continue Reading

Putin defends Russia’s ban on youth-focused gay propaganda: ‘I believe we should leave kids in peace’

MOSCOW, September 29, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – In 2013, Russia passed an amendment to the country’s Child Protection Law against “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations to minors,” which also safeguards children from being adopted by homosexuals. Western governments, led by the…Continue Reading

EXPOSED: The billionaire Planned Parenthood donor who wants his donations kept very, very secret

Sept. 28, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Three weeks after I left my job at the clinic, Planned Parenthood took me to court. I am always asked, “Why would they take you to court? Did they have something to hide?” Well, yes.…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke Brought Back Into Roman Curia By Pope Francis

Raymond Cardinal Burke has been re-appointed to Congregation for the Causes of Saints from which he had been removed in December of 2013.

The Secret Meeting of the Papal Trip

Washington, D.C. One meeting during Pope Francis’ whirlwind trip to America has remained secret. Until now. It was, arguably, the most significant meeting, symbolically, of the entire trip. It should, therefore, be brought to the attention of the public, both…Continue Reading

Angry Pope Blasts Mayor of Rome as a ‘Pretend Catholic’

Pope Francis raised eyebrows in Italy on Tuesday by slapping down the left-leaning mayor of Rome as someone who “pretends to be Catholic”. The unforgiving assessment of Ignazio Marino — a man the Italian media love to hate — further…Continue Reading

Bishop Fellay Petitions Pope Francis

A petition to Pope Francis: uphold marriage! The Superior General of the Society of St. Pius X has just published a petition to the Holy Father, Pope Francis, asking him to publicly defend the institution of holy matrimony. Bishop Fellay…Continue Reading


Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.

  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

A Powerful Weapon: 15 Quotes on the Holy Rosary

We live in evil times. I hardly need elaborate the multitude of crises that fill the globe. Sadly, many are being swept away by this flood of evil and are succumbing to an overwhelming anxiety and discouragement. But no matter how tempting it is, we must not shrink back. We must pray and fast with a living faith and a firm confidence—and there is no better way to…Continue Reading

12 Ways to Become a Committed Catholic Man

There is a Catholic “man-crisis.” Large numbers of men who were baptized Catholic have left the Church and the majority of those who remain are “Casual Catholic Men”, men who do not know the Catholic faith and don’t practice it. This large-scale failure of Catholic men to commit themselves to Jesus Christ and His Church has contributed to the accelerating…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Pope Francis makes first direct intervention; was Cardinal Erdö undermined?

Pope Francis makes first direct intervention; was Cardinal Erdö undermined? There appear to be two main contingents at the Synod: one favoring the proclamation of the fullness of the truth to be taught with clarity and Christian charity; and the other favoring mercy at any and all costs October 06, 2015 03:00 EST Fr Nicholas Gregoris Pope Francis arrives for the morning session of the Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican Oct.…Continue Reading

Synod on the Family: Press Briefing Day 2


(Vatican Radio) Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J. opened the daily press conference by explaining what had happened in the morning session. He said that the general secretary of the Synod, Cardinal Baldisseri, had explained “certain processes of the methodology” and its new elements. Lombardi said that Pope Francis also thought it was important for him to make a contribution and so he too said a few words. “The Holy Father thought it important to say that…Continue Reading

Card. Alencherry: pastors called to prophetic role

(Vatican Radio) The third General Congregation of the XIV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops opened on Tuesday morning with the celebration of Terce (mid-morning prayer). The homily for the Liturgy was delivered by Cardinal George Alencherry of Ernakulam-Angamaly, Major Archbishop and President of the Synod of the Syro-Malabar Church. In his homily, Cardinal Alencherry reminded the Synod Fathers that “the pastors of the Church in the present times are called to take…Continue Reading

Synod on the Family: Press Briefing Day 1


(Vatican Radio) The first of the daily press conferences to report on the proceedings of the Synod of the Family took place at 1pm Rome time on Monday. The Synod began on Sunday with a Mass celebrated by Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Basilica and the first session sat on Monday morning. Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., director of the Holy See Press Office, was accompanied by Cardinal Péter Erdö from Hungary – who is the…Continue Reading

Liberty Counsel Says . . . Pope’s Words And Meetings Support Conscientious Objection

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Liberty Counsel issued the following statement on October 2: Mat Staver, county clerk Kim Davis’ attorney, is the chairman of Liberty Counsel: + + + Despite a statement this morning by a Vatican official, the Pope’s own words about conscientious objection being a human right and his private meeting with Kim Davis…Continue Reading

A Book Review… The Ideal Artist

By JUDE P. DOUGHERTY Santayana, George. The Life of Reason: Reason in Art. A critical edition, co-edited by M.S. Wokeck and M.A. Coleman. Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press, 2015. lvi + 276 pp. The Life of Reason is Volume VII, Book Four, of the Collected Works of George Santayana. Professor James Gouinlock of Emory University…Continue Reading

Why Isn’t Kim Davis A Hero To The Left?

By JAMES K. FITZPATRICK I have been waiting for weeks now for the keepers of the flame in the liberal establishment to express some begrudging admiration for Kim Davis’ decision to go to jail, rather than violate her conscience by issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Kentucky. Or at least some ambiguity over what…Continue Reading

What’s In A Motto?

By DONALD DeMARCO Pope St. John Paul II’s 1998 encyclical Fides et Ratio is a thorough and thoughtful discussion of the harmony between “faith” and “reason.” It does not break new ground but reaffirms to a modern audience what St. Thomas Aquinas and more recent thinkers such as Jacques Maritain and Etienne Gilson have carefully…Continue Reading

Non-Catholic Communities As “Means Of Salvation”

By FR. BRIAN W. HARRISON, OS Many dissident traditionalists claim that Vatican Council II’s Decree on Ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio (UR) is irreconcilable with traditional Catholic doctrine. The passage most commonly singled out in support of this claim is the affirmation in article 3 of the Decree that “the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from…Continue Reading


Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

A Leaven In The World… Pope Francis’ Visit Leaves Us Blessed And Strengthened

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK The chair under me is rolling from starboard to port and back as I write to you this week because I do so aboard the USS San Antonio at sea. In my ministry here I am following through on something Pope Francis has asked of all of us: I am seeking souls at the periphery.…Continue Reading

An Apologetics Course . . . The Church Of Christ Is Universal, For Everyone

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA Part 22 It is true that Jesus came first for the Jews. Many individuals accepted Him, like the apostles, disciples, and their converts, but as a nation they refused Him. So the apostles spread their mission to the Gentiles — that means, to our ancestors. But even if the Jews had accepted Him, the apostles would…Continue Reading

Mission Of The Catholic Laity: Priest, Prophet, And King

By DON FIER Thus far in our examination of the vocation of the laity in the mission of the Church, it has become manifestly clear that theirs is a role that is distinctive and indispensable. Characterized especially by their secular nature, it pertains in a unique way to the lay faithful “to illuminate and order all temporal things with which…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. Recently we got a new pastor who has resumed the holding of hands during the Our Father that our previous pastor had eliminated. Has this now become part of the liturgy? And what is the purpose of the holding hands to begin with? Also, what do you think of “Polka Masses”? — C.G., Wisconsin. A. No, holding hands during…Continue Reading

Wisdom Is Worth More Than Gold

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Twenty Eighth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR B) Readings: Wisdom 7:7-11 Heb. 4:12-13 Mark 10:17-30 In the second reading, St. Paul tells us that no creature is concealed from God, but that everything is naked and exposed to Him to whom we must render an account. We know from the Gospels that our Lord, on several…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… Pope St. John XXIII

By CAROLE BRESLIN Part 1 Although rare, it is not unknown for a poor man, who had no connections and did not seek to develop them, to rise above all other men in stature and in influence over mankind. Such was the case of the sharecroppers’ son, Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli. Throughout his ecclesiastical career, he was obedient and kind, but…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Thomas of Hereford

By CAROLE BRESLIN During the High Middle Ages the power of kings began to disintegrate, as shown by the Magna Charta, which was established in 1215. Although neither party of the agreement held up to its commitments, the beginning of more democratic rule had arrived. Three years later a noble family gave birth to a man who played a significant…Continue Reading