June 28, 2015 4 p.m. Homily for Adoration for Fortnight For Freedom, Cathedral of St. Mary, St. Cloud, MN by Bishop Donald Kettler, Bishop of the Diocese of St. Cloud

We gather here today in prayer during another annual Fortnight For Freedom, Call to Prayer.

I am certainly here to lead and facilitate your prayer about and for religious freedom here in our country and throughout the world. But I am, also here to pray for myself that I will guide and teach according to God’s will and plan. My prayer for religious freedom centers around three truths: That I and others remember that God is the creator of the universe and has a plan for all of His creation which we need to recognize and follow; that each human being created in God’s image has a basic and equal dignity and value; and that we observe God’s wish that all humanity cares for the common good – the good of everyone; not just for themselves.

Everything I talk about today is based on the dignity of every human being, God’s greatest creation. Every one of us was made in God’s image and likeness. Every person, regardless of race, creed, color, age, gender, sexual orientation has dignity and is loved unconditionally by God. We are to love and respect all of our brothers and sisters without exception.

There is an unbreakable connection between family and marriage. Marriage is the cornerstone of every family. The truth about marriage is written into the complementarity of men and women based on their sexual and reproductive differences. Marriage does not exist just for the material satisfaction of two people but for the betterment of society and to provide future generations with human life. As Pope Francis has reminded us, “Every child has a right to be raised by two parents – a father and a mother. Both parents are important and they are not interchangeable.” Children have a basic right whenever possible to know and be loved by their mother and father together. Civil law ought to support this basic right.

Although not all families are able to provide all of the elements of family and although some families are headed by same sex couples, all families deserve everyone’s love, respect, compassion, sensitivity and pastoral care. We must respect the human dignity of both those that support the Supreme Court’s decision and those who do not approve.

The Supreme Court decision which legally redefines marriage does not and cannot change what marriage really is. This redefinition does have an impact on our first amendment right to religious freedom. It can place God’s plan for marriage and family in opposition to the law and create conflict between the state, religious people and many societal institutions.

The Church, because marriage is God’s creation, must continue to be free to preach the truth about marriage, always doing this for the common good and protecting the dignity of the human person.
The Court’s opinion does recognize the freedom of religious institutions to express, live and teach the truth about marriage and family. But the decision also creates circumstances in which the Church’s teaching and practice may be brought into conflict with civil law.

As we pray here today, and look toward the future, we are to stand up for God’s plan for marriage and family and we must increase our efforts to strengthen marriage as God created it and to rebuild a marriage culture.

Our allegiance to God demands that we bear witness to the truth about marriage as a union of one man and one woman together for life and open the possibility of passing human life onto our children and our children’s children; the truth about the dignity of all human beings from conception to natural death; the truth about the need to feed the hungry, to comfort the sick, and welcome the immigrant; and the truth that none of this will happen without the protection of religious liberty. Again, thank you for your prayer and presence here today.