The United States’ Conference of Catholic Bishops is once again sponsoring what they call the “Fortnight for Freedom”. This is the vehicle for the Bishops to communicate a message about the importance of conscience rights. True freedom depends on the ability of the individual to pursue and act on the truth as they understand it. The fortnight aims to promote this ideal, especially in regards to religious freedom. The fortnight began on the memorial of Saints Thomas More and John Fisher (June 22), and ends on the Fourth of July.
In thinking about Catholicism and its place in American life, I was brought to think of the first Bishop of America, John Carroll. John Carroll was the Archbishop of Baltimore, the first Diocese in America. Archbishop Carroll faced a great array of challenges in his time as Archbishop, but he overcame them. Without him, the Catholic Church in America may have completely unraveled. He and his family also made tremendous contributions to the nation, his brother Charles being a signatory of the Declaration of Independence.
When we ask ourselves how we might be loyal Americans and faithful Catholics in an age when the two might be opposed, we can look to Carroll’s example. I am linking to an outstanding lecture on Carroll given in 2008 by Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York. He says it better than I could. Please read the article, and find some inspiration for mind and soul. May you be blessed on this Fourth of July Holiday!