At this event Cardinal-Designate Wuerl gave a very fine talk on the erosion of religious liberty in our country and the necessary solutions. I have heard him speak on this topic before in various priest-gatherings and am glad to hear this talk, and that it is available on the Internet as a podcast or mp3 download. You can get the full talk here: DFF Forum Podcasts along with the other talks as well.
I would like to present a brief summary here along with a few short sound clips that will give you the flavor of what I think is a very fine talk and a most necessary topic for our consideration.
Cardinal-Designate Wuerl divides his twenty-four minute talk into three parts:
- The Nature of the Problem
- The Necessity of Witnessing to our Faith
- The Need to More Effectively Communicate our own Message
1. The Nature of the Problem is that we are experiencing a sea-change wherein it is increasingly asserted that the only place for religious expression in our culture is inside church buildings. Religious involvement of any sort in the public forum is often intentionally proscribed. Sometimes this is done overtly, sometimes more subtly. He recalls how religious liberty was suddenly ended in Maryland in the 17th Century and the doors of Catholic Churches we ordered locked. He then challenges our thought that such a thing could not happen today, and gives two examples of something quite similar happening recently. In addition, another threat to religious liberty is that common Catholic teachings are increasingly be labeled as “hate-speech.” He addresses all this in this three minute excerpt from the talk:
2. The Necessity of Witnessing to our Faith – In such a climate it will become increasingly necessary for us to know our faith and witness to it. This will require courage and conviction that the truth will win out. But for the truth to win out it must first be heard! And that depends on us. Here is a 2.5 minute clip on this point:
3. The Need to More Effectively Communicate our own Message– Most Catholics hear of their faith in a very filtered way through the media. When the secular media describes a Church teaching, or an event within the life of the Church, it is often reduced and reported in a secular way. Important theological nuances and distinctions are often left out of the discussion. For example, in the discussion on stem-cell research, it is often reported that the Church merely opposes stem-cell research. This is not true. We oppose only embryonic stem cell research. Further, one is more likely to hear through the filter of the secular media, bad news about the Church or matters which cause controversy. Under-reported are the millions helped through Catholic Charities, the millions who find healing and peace in the Church, and so forth. Here is a 3.5 minute clip wherein the Cardinal-Designate describes the nature of this problem
At the direction of the Archbishop, the Archdiocese of Washington is currently working on many new ways to get our message out directly to Catholics and all people. This blog is one of those ways. The ADW website is currently under re-design. Podcasting, Youtube videos, enhanced e-mail communications, Catholic Radio AM 1160, and many other approaches are either underway or planned for the near future. We are serious about the need to communicate in an increasingly effective and direct way.
The complete talk of Cardinal-Designate Wuerl is here: Complete Talk
In the end, Cardinal-Designate Wuerl is not content merely to describe or lament the problem. He is challenging the Archdiocesan Staff and every Catholic to be part of the solution. We must come to better know our faith, communicate it, and personally witness to it. The steady erosion of Religious Liberty in this country cannot be allowed to continue. But to battle it will will require courage and a polite, non-violent, but firm resistance to the increasing demand that we remain silent and aloof. In a word, Evangelize! You should be a witness.