Archbishop warns of serious threats to religious liberty
by Sheila Myers
Special to The Leaven
LEAWOOD — Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann reminded legal professionals attending the Red Mass Oct. 11 at Curé of Ars Parish here that they have a special mission to be ministers of God’s justice as the nation faces “threats to religious liberty in every dimension of life.”
“Our celebration falls at a very important moment for our nation, as we are less than a month away from a presidential election that assumes even greater importance because of the constellation of crucial foreign and domestic issues that face our country,” Archbishop Naumann said.
He delivered the homily and Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., celebrated the Mass, which is sponsored by the Catholic Lawyers Guild of Kansas City. The Red Mass is a nearly 800-year-old Catholic tradition asking the Holy Spirit to guide members of the legal profession.
The archbishop offered examples of threats to religious liberty, naming the mandates issued by the Department of Health and Human Services as part of the Affordable Care Act among others.
“[These issues] are serious threats to one of the most fundamental pillars of our national heritage of freedom and liberty,” the archbishop said. “Every citizen must be concerned. And those in the legal profession have a special responsibility to be well-informed and knowledgeable in these areas.”
Though these issues may seem overwhelming, the archbishop urged everyone to pray.
“It is within prayer that we will find the strength, the energy, the peace, the power to love and the joy that does have the capacity to not only transform us, but also our world,” he said.
The archbishop’s homily impressed many of those in attendance.
“I thought his homily was fantastic and I think the issues he discussed are really of a constitutional magnitude,” said Robb Edmonds, a member of St. Ann Parish in Prairie Village.
This is Edmonds’ third year attending the Red Mass. He comes to support the guild, but said his ulterior motive is to listen to the homily.
Nancy Putman, of Curé of Ars, said she came because a bulletin notice piqued her attention.
“[The homily] was incredibly thought-provoking,” Putman said. “I like some of the specifics he talked about, as far as the health care bill and how some of the information in the national media has skewed what that bill really means to [the] Catholic faith and a Catholic organization.”
Gregory J. Trum Jr., of St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Leawood, just started practicing law at a firm in Topeka. He said the archbishop’s homily reminded him of his higher duty to represent the community on all issues — “from social issues representing the poor all the way up to major issues facing our country today.”
The guild’s incoming president, Chris Kopecky, presented the 2012 St. Thomas More Award to John Fitzgerald of St. Thomas More Parish in Kansas City, Mo., for his work as an adoption attorney with Catholic Charities. In his 50-year career, Fitzgerald helped place more than 1,500 children into adoptive homes. He retired in 2006.
The Catholic Lawyers Guild of Kansas City is an organization of Catholic legal professionals from Kansas and Missouri founded in 2007. Besides the Red Mass, the guild holds monthly lectures, meetings and social events, and provides pro bono legal services to those who need them.