As Chairman of the Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty let me take the briefest of moments to express my gratitude and that of the Committee for your participation in the Fortnight for Freedom. I am grateful to Cardinal Wuerl for hosting this concluding Fortnight Mass here at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and to Bishop Zubik for his wonderful homily. All of us are in your debt, Cardinal Wuerl and Bishop Zubik, and especially, the Little Sisters of the Poor, for your leadership and courage in bringing to the nation’s highest court the conscientious objections of many people of faith to the HHS mandate.
Let me also echo the gratitude of Cardinal Wuerl to Jan Graffius, the curator at Stonyhurst College in England for bringing to our shores the relics of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More. Jan, you have brought these relics to many cities in the United States and with the St. John Paul II National Shrine here in Washington these relics will be part of a larger exhibit celebrating our God-given freedoms, most especially the gift of religious liberty – and will spur us all to cherish, protect, and use wisely these precious gifts.
Finally, I want to thank many dioceses and parishes for engaging in Fortnight activities and individual Catholics and other people of good will throughout our country who have taken part in this observance through your prayers, as well as the staff at the Bishops’ Conference who provided wonderful resources for us all. It is necessary that churches, religious orders, and conscientious individuals take steps to protect religious freedom using all the legal means our great nation affords – but it is even more necessary that we pray for religious freedom and use that freedom to grow in our own love of God and to spread the Gospel, especially by engaging in the works of mercy. For when more people love God more and practice the faith more ardently, then indeed religious freedom will truly flourish as the first & most glorious of our freedoms. Thank you and God bless these United States of America!