We have a solemn duty to speak out

Over the past several weeks the message from the pulpit has been focused on freedom, specifically as it pertains to the religious freedoms that we enjoy. Our bishops have asked that we observe a fortnight (14 days) in defense of our liberties and freedom and for all clergy to speak out, from the pulpit, on a number of issues that currently threaten our religious freedom.

It is crucially important that we speak up whenever our fundamental freedoms are threatened. It is not only our responsibility and our duty to speak up; as citizens, we have a solemn obligation to do so. To keep silent is to ignore those obligations incumbent upon all free members of society.

There are some who hold the notion that the practice of preaching politics from the pulpit is somehow inappropriate, wrong, or forbidden. This is a common assertion, but fortunately an incorrect one.

A 1954 amendment to the U.S. tax code states that tax-exempt organizations (churches fall into this category) are “absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.” An online guide for churches and religious organizations states that “Violation of this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise tax.”

Please note what this amendment to the tax code prohibits. It prohibits the promotion of “any candidate for elective public office.” It does not prohibit nor preclude, in any form or manner, the free exercise of speech on any subject or matter that endangers, threatens, or limits our religious freedoms.

In a recent homily, I read the following quote from the Unites States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

That is our American heritage, our most cherished freedom. It is the first freedom because if we are not free in our conscience and our practice of religion, all other freedoms are fragile. If citizens are not free in their own consciences, how can they be free in relation to others, or to the state? If our obligations and duties to God are impeded, or even worse, contradicted by the government, then we can no longer be a land of the free, and a beacon of hope for the world.

“[From the earliest days of our nation,] Catholics in America have been advocates for religious liberty, and the landmark teaching of the Second Vatican Council on religious liberty was influenced by the American experience…. We have been staunch defenders of religious liberty in the past. We have a solemn duty to discharge that duty today.

We need, therefore, to speak frankly with each other when our freedoms are threatened. Now is such a time. [It is incumbent on every American] to be on guard, for religious liberty is under attack, both at home and abroad.”

As members of the Body of Christ, we are all called, clergy and laity alike, to spread the Good News, to speak out for freedom, and to promote liberty for everyone, especially the oppressed. To speak out for the oppressed obligates each of us to speak out for freedom, to demand that freedom for one must be freedom for all. So let freedom ring and may God bless America.

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: http://deaconscorner.org. Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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