Born Free

Fr. Kevin Dillon

Fr. Kevin Dillon is the Pastor of St. Boniface Martyr Parish, Sea Cliff, Long Island, NY.

Last Friday, residents of the UK voted to leave the European Union.  Some are calling it a revolution and comparing it to what we did in 1776 when we broke away from England’s rule and formed our own government, a Democracy.  We wanted a government for the people and by the people FREE FROM MONARCHICAL RULERS.  We celebrate that this Independence weekend as we remember and recall the events that led up to this historical event which changed our world forever.  Along with the Declaration of Independence, The Bill of Rights was formed.  These documents high light and promote various liberties that we enjoy as citizens of this much beloved nation.  We are a nation bound not by race, or religion, but by the shared values of freedom, liberty and equality.  Webster’s Dictionary defines freedom as an absence of coercion, constraint in choice or action.

As Americans we enjoy a number of freedoms such as Freedom of the Press and Freedom of Religion, to name a few; however, with these freedoms or rights comes responsibilities as well.  Some responsibilities include respecting the rights, beliefs and opinions of others and serving on a jury when called upon.  Countless numbers of people have rigorously and vehemently defended the rights and freedoms we enjoy as American citizens.  Without a doubt FREEDOM is one of our most cherished beliefs and practices here in the United States.  Many people from nations with tyrannical leaders and oppressive government regimes long to come to the United States so that they too can be free.

We should be ever mindful and vigilant that we do not take these freedoms for granted.  Apathy and indifference towards the freedoms we enjoy (ex. Bill of Rights) should never be taken for granted.  Our founding Fathers worked hard to ensure and safeguard that these cherished ideals would be preserved for succeeding generations.  Speaking about RELIGIOUS FREEDOM from the White House in September 2016, Pope Francis said “freedom remains one of America’s most precious possessions and as my brother Bishops in the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have reminded us all are called to be vigilant, precisely as good citizens to preserve, defend and promote that freedom from everything that would threaten or compromise it.”

Several contemporary issues have placed some of our freedoms in jeopardy.  One example of this is the HHS MANDATE requiring Catholics and other Religious organizations to facilitate health insurance coverage of sterilization, contraception and drugs and devices that can possibly cause abortions.  John Milton, the English poet said, “give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience above all liberties.”  As Catholics and Americans striving to be good and faithful servants we are called to prosper the gift of free will and to do that we must learn the meaning of conscience rights and recognize the forces denying that right.  Catholics must learn the Constitution’s unique protection of conscience rights and not passively yield them to placate a secular culture.  Only then can we answer every attack on Religious Liberty in our community, state and country.  The deliberate and willful erosion of respect for Christians, religious practices and deeply held beliefs has brought unimagined and liberty crushing cultural and political changes some of which directly and willfully contradict and challenge the Church’s teaching on issues of human dignity and life.  Some in our government will NOT allow Catholics and other people of good will and faith to remain faithful to their consciences.  Instead in true tyrannical and narrow minded thinking legislators have proposed crippling and crushing fines that would bankrupt many of our schools and health organizations that the Church runs.  It is not easy to defend or defeat such laws, but as Catholics we are called to not only practice and promote our faith in Church but to publicly proclaim it in the public sphere as well!   On this Independence Day weekend we remember the hard fought battles and sacrifices made by people before us so we might enjoy the many liberties and freedoms we have in this country and will do all in our power to make sure that our freedoms and liberties will be safeguarded and protected for future generations.  ENJOY A SAFE AND HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY WEEKEND!

Fr. Kevin’s letter appears each week in print and online in the St. Boniface Martyr Parish Bulletin.

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