Adult Faith Formation Column for the Sunday Bulletin of St. Michael Parish, Livermore, California

This weekly column is a short meditation on the Bible readings of the Sunday Mass. The meditations are direct quotations from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, papal encyclicals, writings of the Saints, and similar orthodox sources.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sunday 19 February 2012

Encouragement From Our Holy Father

    One of the most memorable aspects of my Pastoral Visit to the United
States was the opportunity it afforded me to reflect on America's 
historical experience of religious freedom, and specifically the relationship 
between religion and culture.  At the heart of every culture, whether perceived 
or not, is a consensus about the nature of reality and the moral good, and thus 
about the conditions for human flourishing.  In America, that consensus, as 
enshrined in your nation's founding documents, was grounded in a worldview
shaped not only by faith but a commitment to certain ethical principles 
deriving from nature and nature's God.  Today that consensus has eroded significantly 
in the face of powerful new cultural currents which are not only directly 
opposed to core moral teachings of the Judeo-Christian tradition, but 
increasingly hostile to Christianity as such.....

    ...[I]t is imperative that the entire Catholic community in the United 
States come to realize the grave threats to the Church's public moral witness 
presented by a radical secularism which finds increasing expression in the 
political and cultural spheres.  The seriousness of these threats needs to be clearly 
appreciated at every level of ecclesial life.  Of particular concern are certain 
attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of 
religion.  Many of you have pointed out that concerted efforts have been made to 
deny the right of conscientious objection on the part of Catholic individuals 
and institutions with regard to cooperation in intrinsically evil practices.  Others 
have spoken to me of a worrying tendency to reduce religious freedom to mere freedom of
worship without guarantees of respect for freedom of conscience.

    Here once more we see the need for an engaged, articulate and well-
formed Catholic laity endowed with a strong critical sense vis-a-vis the
dominant culture and with the courage to counter a reductive secularism
which would delegitimize the Church's participation in public debate 
about the issues which are determining the future of American society.  The 
preparation of committed lay leaders and the presentation of a convincing 
articulation of the Christian vision of man and society remain a primary task of the Church 
in your country; as essential components of the new evangelization, these 
concerns must shape the vision and goals of catechetical programs at every 

                        Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI
                        To the Bishops of the United States of America
                        On their Ad Limina Visit
                        Thursday 19 January 2012

       "I say to you, rise...."  (Mark 2:11)

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