Catholics are joined in their concerns about support for religious freedom in America by Baptists, Pentecostals, and Presbyterians, Jews, Sikhs, and Muslims among others, as a recent conference in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the Ethics and Public Policy Center made clear. The idea is to educate and pray. What is religious freedom? What is conscience? Why do we have a responsibility to protect these?
And as for Paul VI and “conservatives.” Some of us consider him prophetic. Had we heeded the cautions of his Humane Vitae, a whole lot of misery could have been avoided.
And it was just this fall, marking the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, that Pope Benedict handed me a powerful message about women and our unique, creative, crucial role as peacemakers that Pope Paul VI first issued. It said, in part:
the hour is coming, in fact has come, when the vocation of woman is being achieved in its fullness, the hour in which woman acquires in the world an influence, an effect and a power never hitherto achieved. That is why, at this moment when the human race is under-going so deep a transformation, women impregnated with the spirit of the Gospel can do so much to aid mankind in not falling.
Women, you do know how to make truth sweet, tender and accessible, make it your task to bring the spirit of this council into institutions, schools, homes and daily life. Women of the entire universe, whether Christian or non-believing, you to whom life is entrusted at this grave moment in history, it is for you to save the peace of the world.
Marking the anniversary of Paul VI’s election last week, Pope Francis recalled him saying “Convinced of Christ: yes, I feel the need to proclaim him, I cannot keep silent” and asked: “Do we have the same love for Christ? Is He the center of our lives? Do we witness this in our everyday actions?”
As I write in my syndicated column this week, a world of Christians who answer yes with their lives could make a world of difference.