On a recent trip through Chicago, I had a chance to grab some time for lunch with my sister Bobbie. It was one of those “spur of the moment” situations – she doesn’t like it when I don’t give her enough advance warning to prepare – but we made the most of it. We talked about all sorts of things – as we usually do; but this time, I really used her as a laboratory to test what the “average Catholic” knew or felt about the recent news concerning the fight for religious freedom. I was happy to see that she was quite on target and told me that: “It’s like being forced to do something against your conscience.” Well, yes, it’s exactly that. I am happy that she, who at that point was representing an official Catholic response for me, hit the nail right on the head.
I think she understands that I am trying to keep that point alive in the minds and the hearts of people throughout my diocese and in solidarity with my brother bishops all around the country. I had the opportunity to meet with the Presbyteral Council last week and I am so proud – as always – that they are in complete unity about our stance in this matter. I asked them to increase their preaching concerning the focus on this issue correctly as the First Amendment struggle it is, and to avoid any political leaning: either to the left or the right.
In my travels across the diocese, I am so happy to hear of the support from the people for the bishops and for the efforts to keep a clear mind concerning this historic debate in our country. With the efforts of the Office for Social Concerns and the Office for Family Life, we will be launching a new initiative to instruct students in some basic civics and religion lessons to clarify the current events for our young people who may be hearing too much from the secular media and not enough from us.
In the future, you will be hearing some more news about the pope’s presentations for the bishops of the United States during their Ad Limina visits. His most recent address to the bishops of the Great Plains (Regions VIII and IX) concerning Marriage and the Family is of course significant and I will be passing along that info for you the next time. Thanks so much for your support and for your prayers. God be with you.
As always, I’ll see you at Sunday Mass!