As we prepare to celebrate the Fourth of July and our independence from the tyrannical government back in 1776, we are reminded of the freedoms our ancestors won for us. We have those freedoms spelled out in the 1st Ten Amendments to the Constitution in the Bill of Rights. Of particular interest to the Church is the First Amendment which guarantees freedoms of speech, assembly, press, and religion. Those first three freedoms are much respected and protected. However, that’s not so much the case with freedom of religion. There have been numerous efforts to reduce freedom of religion to freedom of worship. In one state, California, a law is being pushed to mandate that the sin of child abuse when confessed in the Sacrament of Reconciliation must be revealed to civil authorities. In other words, priests are to violate the seal of confession. While priests have been guilty of various sins and crimes, I have never heard of any violating the seal of confession. Some have even been martyred or gone to prison for their fidelity to the sacrament.
Elsewhere, preaching on sexual morality and the sins involved, have resulted in the preacher being accused of fostering hate speech.
In any event, we need to pray for and work toward true freedom of religion and not just freedom of worship. As we do, St. Paul today (Gal 5:1, 13-18) reminds us to use our freedom not for selfish purposes but to “serve one another through love.” That will truly set us free.
Happy Fourth of July,