His Excellency knows a thing or two about persecution. His former posts include Jordan and Baghdad, where on October 31, 2010 fifty-two Catholics were killed in the Cathedral while celebrating the Vigil of All Saints. He is a veteran and eye witness of state-sponsored violence where people of faith – Catholics in particular, are arrested, tortured and killed – suffering martyrdom for their faith.
“These are not abstract issues. These are not mere statistics, they were and are my friends, my colleagues, my neighbors.”
The Archbishop reminded that this persecution does not begin with the red martyrdom of death and torture, but the white martyrdom of isolation, discrimination and marginalization –
While nobody would confuse the marginalization of religion with the actual killing of Christians in other parts of the world, it is through this marginalizing that violent persecution is born.
The Archbishop and the Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus both spoke of a sort of historical amnesia that is the first movement of marginalization – Supreme Knight, Carl Anderson reflected on our nation’s latest memorial on the mall – one dedicated to Reverend Martin Luther King -a Baptist Minister, which includes 14 MLK quotes none of them mentioning God.
“Imagine how hard those in authority must have searched to come up with 14 quotes of Dr. King without one mention of the Almighty.”
The past century – Mexico in the 1920’s, Europe in the 1940’s, the so-called “Arab Spring” of our current era and the present oppression of the current Administration illustrates what happens when religious freedom is stifled and God is set aside. Faith in God and respect for religious freedom go hand in hand, and from this springs respect for the human person from conception to natural death. This perspective creates integral education of children, authentic healthcare, proper care for the elderly, feeding the hungry – the list of social justices enacted is endless.
Archbishop Chullikatt remarked “The one who respects the existence of God will always and everywhere respect also religious freedom and that “the human person has a fundamental and sacred right to seek, profess and share the truth.”
And there is only one Truth. We can never forget that authentic religious liberty – the American version, is more than simply freedom of worship. It also includes, among things, the right to preach, educate, evangelize and participate in the political process, as well as in all aspects of public life.