By Thomas Renker, General Counsel, Diocese of Rockville Centre
In the 40-plus years since the wrongly decided Roe v. Wade decision was handed down by the United States Supreme Court, the public bearing of witness to the horror of this mistake by the judicial branch of our government has not been silenced. Religious freedom and freedom of speech walk hand-in-hand in proclaiming a Gospel of life.
In his address at the Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary this past March, commemorating the 50 years after Vatican II, Archbishop Chaput noted the following:
In some ways, the Council’s Declaration on Religious Liberty—Dignitatis Humanae in Latin, or “Of Human Dignity” in English—is the Vatican II document that speaks most urgently to our own time. The reason is obvious. We see it right now in the suffering of Christians and other religious believers in many places around the world… In its own words, Dignitatis Humanae says “religious freedom . . . has to do with immunity from coercion in civil society.”
In our time, we are undeniably seeing an expanding public coercion by a secular society, supported by many in our branches of government, to force religious citizens to accept the secular society’s precepts and decrees, including precepts and decrees on the meaning of Holy Matrimony, a Sacrament given to us by Jesus Christ.
We know, because we know by Whom we have been taught, that Holy Matrimony is a Sacrament, a covenant by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life. We also know that nothing that Caesar and his followers proclaim can alter this reality.
It is clear that many of the branches of our government, and now, sadly, the United States Supreme Court, have chosen to accept a culture-driven redefinition of marriage. It is, however, equally clear that we have the God-given and constitutional right to proclaim religious truths, in the public square, as well as in our Church buildings, just as we have been doing for almost 50 years in the ever-vigilant battle against Roe v. Wade.
What Caesar thinks marriage is, Caesar will think marriage is; but Caesar may not, and will not, coerce into silence the voices that, with patience and teaching, in the public square, bear witness to the Sacrament of Marriage as the holy union of one man and one woman. No other union is, or can ever be, its equal. Religious freedom and freedom of speech walk hand-in-hand in proclaiming this truth.