“I consider the government of the United States as interdicted by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline or exercises.”
The third annual Fortnight for Freedom: Freedom to Serve will take place from June 21 to July 4, a time when our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face of persecution by political power—St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher, St. John the Baptist, Sts. Peter and Paul and the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome. The fortnight also marks the death of two of our founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, both of whom died on July 4, 1826.
The theme of this year’s Fortnight will focus on the freedom to serve the poor and vulnerable in accord with human dignity, the church’s teaching and the calls from Pope Francis.
Religious liberty continues to be of great concern to the church, not only in the United States but also throughout the world. Recent events in Iraq and Syria are only the latest attacks on the ability of people to freely practice their religious beliefs. Attacks on religious freedom are widespread throughout the Middle East and the continent of Africa. Believers face similar challenges in China and other parts of the world.
Here in the United States we are waiting on a Supreme Court decision on the freedom of corporations to make decisions on their owners’ deeply held religious beliefs. These cases, and others filed by Catholic dioceses throughout the country, are in response to attempts by the Federal government to impose on people of faith unacceptable beliefs regarding issues of life. This is only one example of the many displays of religious intolerance throughout the country.
This year, I am encouraging parishes throughout the Diocese of Corpus Christi to commemorate the Fortnight for Freedom with local events that will inform and engage the faithful on this very important concern. I pray to the Blessed Mother that we all will be faithful to church teaching and that our government will remain faithful to religious protections guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution.
On Feb. 27 a group of bishops and friends of the Focolare Movement met in the Vatican Apostolic Palace with Pope Francis. I found Pope Francis to be a wonderfully simple man of God.
The Holy Father recalled the words of Blessed John Paul II in the Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, “To make the Church the home and the school of communion is truly fundamental for the efficacy of every commitment to evangelization, inasmuch as it reveals the deepest yearning of the Father.”
This yearning is for all his sons to live as brothers – ‘that all of them may be one’. It also reveals the vitality of the Holy Spirit. “Cultivating the spirituality of communion also contributes to making us more able to walk the path of ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue,” Pope Francis said.
The pope asked us to ensure that we place all we receive “to the benefit of the entire Church.” He said that society “has a great need for the testimony of a style of life, from which their transpires the novelty offered to us by Lord Jesus,” which is to care for each other.
In the coming months I hope to share with all of you the extraordinary and simple call of the Holy Father to be missionary disciples in the New Evangelization. May Mary, Our Blessed Mother, inspire us to live more radically the word of God.
On the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, I celebrated Mass at the Cathedral in recognition of World Day of Consecrated Life. We were blessed to have more than 100 religious sisters and brothers in attendance. We especially acknowledged the service of 15 sisters who were observing from 25 to 75 years of dedicated service to God’s people.
Those celebrating their jubilees included Pax Christi Sisters Guadalupe Cervantes and Patricia Zuniga, 25 years; Sister Elsa Joseph, SABS and Sister Amor Vigare, OP, 40 years; Sister Elizabeth Close, IWBS, Sister Celia Hernandez, MJMJ and Sister Lydia Plastas, SFCC, 50 years; Incarnate Word Sisters Mary Lelia Aguilar, Mary Camelia Herlihy, Mary Colette Brehony and Martha Ann Snapka, 60 years; Sister Barbara Bluntzer, SP, Sister Mary Catherine Brehony, IWBS and Sister Kathleen McDonagh, ISBS, 65 years; and Sister Mary Anselm Till, IWBS, 75 years.
The jubilarians committed themselves to the Lord thorough professing the evangelical counsels of celibate, chastity, poverty, and obedience. On behalf of the church I thanked them for their years of dedicated service. At my invitation they renewed their commitment to follow Christ in consecrated life.
Let us pray to our Loving God, who invited these women and men to a life of public service in and to our church, that they may continue to bear witness to the great grace of their vocation, persevering in a life of prayer and service.
Please extend your appreciation to the women and men religious that are present in your lives of faith.
This week a delegation from the Diocese of Corpus Christi joined tens of thousands of Pro Life advocates in frigid, freezing weather with temperatures almost below zero. This year marks the 41st anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in the United States.
It was impressive to see so many young people at the March for Life. The young are truly to pro-life generation.
Pope Francis joined us in spirit as he tweeted “I join the March for Life in Washington with my prayers. May God help us respect all life, especially the most vulnerable.”
Since that dreadful decision, an estimated 55 million of our brothers and sisters have been aborted. While we abhor the decision and its after effects, we must pray for those who participate in abortions. I ask everyone to join us in prayers in defense of human life and the overturn of Roe v. Wade.
May god bless all life.
On Saturday, January 11, nearly 1,000 catechists and parishioners turned out for our 25th annual ministry conference held at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi. The conference offered a number of workshops to help those in ministry in carrying out their work in the New Evangelization.
I celebrated the opening Mass and focused my homily on the Holy Father’s Apostolic Exhortation EVANGELII GAUDIUM, ON THE PROCLAMATION OF THE GOSPEL IN TODAY’S WORLD. Pope Francis warns us that we too often “indulge in endless fantasies and we lose contact with the real lives and difficulties of our people.” Following is a podcast of my homily in which I call for: “Christ to increase, and we must decrease.”
Below is a podcast of the homily I gave at the Cathedral on the closing of the Year of Faith on Nov. 24. We closed the Year of Faith—called by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI to mark the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church—on the solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.