“[T]he most fundamental human freedom [is] that of practicing
one’s faith openly, which for human beings is their reason for living.”
Saint John Paul II
On Sunday, November 22nd, the Solemnity of Christ the King, the Knights of Columbus from the Austin area and around the state of Texas will march for Religious Freedom from Wooldridge Square Park at 10 A.M. to the Texas State Capitol. The event is called March for Religious Freedom, and this year Senator Eddie Lucio Jr. has been invited to speak at the capitol at 11 A.M. Every Catholic parish, group or organization is encouraged to bring their banner so as to give public witness to the fast erosion and breach of our religious freedoms.
What is Religious Freedom?
Religious freedom is those unalienable rights that every American is guaranteed under the Constitution because they come from the Creator and not from the government, or as Pope Frances declared, “defend these rights, especially your religious freedom, for it has been given to you by God himself.” (Independence Hall) These unalienable rights guarantee us life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Likewise the Catholic Church during the Second Vatican Council, “declare[d] that the human person has a right to religious freedom. This freedom means that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wise that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits.” (Dignitatis Humanae, No. 2.)
Pope Francis explained that religious freedom, “is part of the culture of any people and any nation.” (Independence Hall) In America defending religious freedom has taken on many facets from keeping Christ in Christmas, to removing prayer at football games, to forcing all Christians to pay for services that offend their religious beliefs, to removing ancient religious monuments in public places, to the closure of all Catholic adoptions centers nationwide, to the closure of some Catholic hospitals and nursing homes, to forcing businesses to act against their religious beliefs, to protecting the conscience of future doctors and public officials, and essentially it is taking away those religious beliefs and traditions from the public sector in an effort to completely eradicate God from every facet of government or public life.
Pope Francis explains it best, “The respect due to the agnostic or non-believing minority should not be arbitrarily imposed in a way that silences the convictions of the believing majority or ignores the wealth of religious traditions. In the long run, this would feed resentment rather than tolerance and peace.” (Evangelii Gaudium, No. 255.)
Calling All Knights
For the second year in a row Pope Francis is calling all the Knights of Columbus to stand up and give witness by word, deed, and prayer as he said it so well this year on August 5, 2015, “Draw attention to the duty of American Catholics, precisely as responsible citizens, to contribute to the reasoned defense of those freedoms on which their nation was founded. The cornerstone of these is religious freedom, understood not simply as the liberty to worship as one chooses, but also, for individuals and institutions, to speak and act in accordance with the dictates of their conscience. To the extent that this right is menaced, whether by invasive public policies, or by the growing influence of a culture which sets alleged personal rights above the common good, there is need for a mobilization of consciences on the part of all those citizens who, regardless of party or creed, are concerned for the overall welfare of society.”
Last year on July 28, 2014, Pope Francis related to the knights, “Resist efforts to restrict religion to the purely personal sphere, to defend its proper place in the public square and to encourage the lay faithful in their mission of shaping a society which reflects the truth of Christ and the values of his Kingdom.” Similarly, at Independence Hall he warned against, “modern tyranny [that] seek[s]…to reduce it [religious freedom] to a subculture without right to a voice in the public square.”
The Holy Father is giving the Knights a clear goal and objective in America so we can expect that all the Knights of Columbus councils from around Texas in all 15 dioceses to join the March for Religious Freedom. We are hoping that this will be a catalyst march for the rest of the country and that by next year there will be a March for Religious Freedom at all 50 state capitols of our country. The Knights of Columbus can create that national and global spark because they are the largest fraternal service organization in the world with 1,883,598 members and nearly 15,000 councils.
Christ is King
We chose the Solemnity of Christ the King for several reasons. During the Mexican government’s persecution of the Catholic faith, Pope Pius XI responded on December 12, 1925 (Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe) with an encyclical on Christ the King declaring to the world, “When once men recognize, both in private and in public life, that Christ is King, society will at last receive the great blessings of real liberty, well-ordered discipline, peace and harmony.” (Quas Primas) Many Knights of Columbus from Mexico as well as the Mexican people took this message to heart and their religious freedom battle cry became, “Viva Cristo Rey! Viva La Virgen De Guadalupe!”
Six of those martyred Knights are now officially canonized saints of the Catholic Church, and they are patron saints of religious freedom because they stood up for their Catholic faith when the government, “use[d] religion as a pretext for hatred and brutality,” (Pope Francis Independence Hall) Before and during the march we will be praying for their intercession to clear all obstacles and to open our people’s hearts to see the dangerous reality America is now living.The first class relics of these saints will join us for the March for Religious Freedom on Sunday, November 22nd at 10 AM. Archbishop George Michael Jachimczyk will also be joining us for the march and rally. Download theKnights of Columbus Martyrs Booklet (PDF)
America: Land of the Free
Lastly, Pope Francis reminded us that our founding fathers’ vision of America was for it to be, “a haven of religious freedom and tolerance,” (Independence Hall) and we are called to uphold, cultivate, and preserve it for the future generations to come. He also states, “Freedom remains one of America’s most precious possessions… defend that freedom from everything that would threaten or compromise it,” (White House) and without this right we cease to be human and truly free.
VENERABLE FR. MICHAEL J. MCGIVNEY PRAY FOR US!
MARCH SPONSOR BY: THE GREATER AUSTIN AREA KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS
Chapter President: Greg Nelson
Vice President: Kevin Russell (Lead Organizer)
Treasurer: Michael McLaughlin
Secretary: Giacomo Leone
Diocesan Deputy: Steve Musil
Chaplain: Fr. John Calgaro
Spiritual Director: Deacon Guadalupe Rodriguez
Immediate Past President: Albert Villegas
Pro-Life Chair: Lynn Williams
Special Olympics: Lou Struble
INFO: www.kofcaustin.org 512 – 573 – 3820