Sunday, November 25, 2012, marks the celebration of the Solemnity of Christ the King. The Feast Day serves as a proclamation of Christ’s dominion over all, including individuals, societies, governments and nations.
In the United States, the Constitution guarantees all citizens freedom of religion. It is the first and most cherished of freedoms. In recent years, Americans have experienced challenges to that freedom from all levels of government. The most recent and serious challenge has come from the federal government through its Health and Human Services mandate, requiring almost all employers to provide contraception, sterilization and abortifacients to its employees, even if it is in violation of their religious beliefs.
The U.S. bishops have stated that the attack on conscience rights places in jeopardy each individual’s personal relationship with Our Lord and how we may freely exercise His mission of serving others.
The Solemnity of Christ the King was proclaimed by Pope Pius XI in 1925. In his proclamation, he said:
“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. Our Lord's regal office invests the human authority of princes and rulers with a religious significance; it ennobles the citizen's duty of obedience.
“If princes and magistrates duly elected are filled with the persuasion that they rule, not by their own right, but by the mandate and in the place of the Divine King, they will exercise their authority piously and wisely, and they will make laws and administer them, having in view the common good and also the human dignity of their subjects. The result will be a stable peace and tranquility, for there will be no longer any cause of discontent.”
The subject of religious liberty was discussed at the fall general assembly of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, now underway. Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chair of the U.S. bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty said the work of defending religious liberty will continue more robustly and without end in the face of growing challenges. Archbishop Lori said, “whatever setbacks or challenges in the efforts to defend religious liberty we may be experiencing, we're going to stay the course.
"Our work is to provide education and formation as part of the new evangelization," Archbishop Lori said. "I think that our initial efforts have demonstrated the need for greater formation, especially to reach young people, to open their hearts to their heritage as Americans and to what faith teaches about religious liberty."
Prayer for the Protection of Religious Liberty
O God our Creator, from your provident hand we have received
our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
You have called us as your people and given us
the right and the duty to worship you, the only true
God, and your Son, Jesus Christ.
Through the power and working of your Holy Spirit,
you call us to live out our faith in the midst of the world,
bringing the light and the saving truth of the Gospel
to every corner of society.
We ask you to bless us in our vigilance for the gift of religious liberty.
Give us the strength of mind and heart
to readily defend our freedoms when they are threatened;
give us courage in making our voices heard
on behalf of the rights of your Church
and the freedom of conscience of all people of faith.
Grant, we pray, O heavenly Father,
a clear and united voice to all your sons and daughters
gathered in your Church
in this decisive hour in the history of our nation,
so that, with every trial withstood
and every danger overcome—
for the sake of our children, our grandchildren,
and all who come after us—
this great land will always be “one nation, under God,
indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.