And pray for persecuted Christians who are being killed for their faith in Jesus Christ
VATICAN CITY — In the lead-up to his first visit to the United States next month for the 8th World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, September 22-27, Pope Francis has sent a powerful message to American Catholics and all US citizens, urging them to defend traditional marriage and the freedoms on which their nation was founded, especially religious liberty, from “invasive public policies” and cultural tides that are antithetical to a just and well-ordered society.
The Pope’s words to Americans came in a message sent this week by the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, to the Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, Mr. Carl Anderson. The Order of Knights is currently holding their 133rd Supreme Convention in Philadelphia under the theme: “Endowed by their Creator with Life and Liberty.”
In his message, the Holy Father urged all US Catholics to uphold traditional marriage, defend religious freedom, and to pray for persecuted Christians around the world.
Uphold Traditional Marriage
Just weeks after the US Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision to redefine marriage to include same-sex unions, Pope Francis told Americans that it is God, not man, who determines the definition of marriage.
“Elevated by the Savior to the dignity of a sacrament, marriage is, in the Creator’s plan, a natural institution, a life-long covenant of love and fidelity between a man and a woman, directed to their perfection and sanctification, and to the future of our human family,” he said.
“Today, when the institution of marriage is under attack from powerful cultural forces,” he said, “the faithful are called to bear witness to this basic truth of biblical faith and natural law, which is essential to the wise and just ordering of society.”
Defend Religious Freedom
In the wake of the Obama administration’s push to legally force the Little Sisters of the Poor — a community of Catholic religious sisters who serve the abandoned and dying elderly — to provide contraception to their employees contrary to their religious beliefs, Pope Francis called on American Catholics, “precisely as responsible citizens, to contribute to the reasoned defense of those freedoms on which their nation was founded.”
The Holy Father reminded all Americans: “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.”
He therefore called them to unite in defending their first amendment right, saying: “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.”
Pray for Persecuted Christians
Lastly, Pope Francis appealed to American Catholics to unite in “constant prayer, in families, parishes and the local Councils” for Christians around the world who are being persecuted as they “strive only to be faithful to Christ.”
“It is urgent,” the Holy Father said, “that, from Catholics throughout the world, an unceasing sacrifice of prayer be offered for the conversion of hearts, an end to fanatical violence and intolerance, and a general recognition of those fundamental human rights which are not granted by the state, but from the hand of the Creator, whom all believers invoke as a God of peace.”
Diane Montagna is Rome correspondent for Aleteia’s English edition.