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Catholics must be vigilant to protect religious freedom Print
Letters to the editor
Thursday, Dec. 06, 2012 -- 12:00 AM

To the editor:

As Thanksgiving Day passes into history, I was reminded this morning at Mass to give thanks to the Catholic martyrs who have died because of their resistance to anti-religious freedom laws. In particular this day, we remember Blessed Miguel Pro, a Jesuit priest in Mexico during the violent anti-Catholic persecutions in the 1920’s. On this day in 1927, he was taken to a police firing range and shot to death. His crime against the Mexican government was simply to minister to the Catholic people in their worship of Jesus Christ.

Mexico’s President Calles personally ordered Father Pro’s execution. Before the execution, Father Pro prayed, and then held out his arms in the form of a cross. As the police took aim with their rifles, he spoke the words, “Viva Cristo Rey!” (“Long live Christ the King!”).

Father Pro was not alone in his opposition to religious persecution. According to some sources, more than 200,000 Mexican people from every socio-economic background were killed or martyred by 1930. In the year 2000, Pope John Paul II canonized 25 Catholic martyrs in Mexico, among them being Blessed Miguel Pro.

This past June, the movie, For Greater Glory: The True Story of Cristiada, was released to tell the story of this historic period in Mexico. While today’s American’s might say, “This can never happen in our country today!”, let us remind ourselves that it surely can. In particular, if we, who call ourselves “Catholic” fail to hold firm to our authentic Catholic faith by living it fully in our lives, we’re opening the door for our religious freedom to be taken from us.

In your paper’s November 15 article,  Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, Apostolic Nuncio to the U.S., reminds us so eloquently about religious freedom, persecution of the Church, and martyrdom. These issues are not just concerns of the past; they’re very much evident today, around the world, and yes, even in America. The HHS mandate for contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs to be provided by religious institutions, in violation of their religious beliefs, is a primary example.

I believe Archbishop Vigano’s article is a must-read for all of us who call ourselves “Catholics.” He ends his article by saying, “What God has given, the servant state does not have the competence to remove. And God has given us the truth of His Son, the truth who gives us the most precious freedom of all, which is the desire to be with God forever! This is our destiny, and this is why religious freedom as I have explained it is of paramount importance. It is essential to the exercise of our other rights and responsibilities as citizens of the Two Cities (the City of Man and the City of God).”

With this letter, I simply urge all Catholic Herald readers to be aware of today’s events that threaten our Constitutional right to religious freedom. Yes, we can blindly say, “This can never happen in our country today!” and pray that it doesn’t happen. However, our failure to live as authentic Catholics will only hasten the time when our religious freedom is slowly taken from us.

Thank you and the Catholic Herald for helping me to want to live as an authentic Catholic, and for being a voice for protecting my religious freedom.

Wayne Hunt, Madison

 
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