WASHINGTON, D.C., MAY 8, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Archbishop Raymond Burke is encouraging Catholics to practice patriotism within the Church, drawing strength from the sacraments to fuel efforts to transform the country.
The prelate, head of the Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signature and former archbishop of St. Louis, affirmed this today at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C.
He stated that “the most treasured gift which we as citizens of the United States of America can offer to our country is a faithful Catholic life.”
The archbishop continued: “It is the gift which, even though it has often been misunderstood, has brought great strength to our nation, from the time of its founding. Today more than ever, our nation is in need of Catholics who know their faith deeply and express their faith, with integrity, by their daily living.”
He noted that it is God who gives us, in the Church, “the grace to practice patriotism as a fundamental expression of the bond of charity which we have, in him, with our fellow citizens.”
Though there has been a lot of political language focusing on “change” recently, Archbishop Burke affirmed, “the change which brings hope can only be the renewal of our nation in the divine love which respects the inviolable dignity of every human life, from the moment of its inception to the moment of natural death, and which creates and gives growth to new human life through the love of man and woman in marriage.”
“Any hope which is incoherent with the great hope is truly illusory and can never bring forth justice and its fruit, peace, for our nation and world,” he added.
The prelate acknowledged, “In the battle for the protection of the right to life and for the safeguarding of the integrity of marriage and the family in our nation, we are easily tempted to give way to discouragement.”
He continued: “And it would be right to do so, if the outcome of the battle depended upon us alone. But it does not.
“Christ is with us always in the Church and, in a particular way, in the struggle to restore the respect for the right to life of all of our brothers and sisters, especially those who are helpless and who have the first title to our care, and to safeguard the integrity of marriage and the family.”
The archbishop urged his listeners: “If we are serious about our patriotic duty, then we must pray every day for our leaders, especially our president, and our nation.”
He also encouraged a more fervent practice of “fasting and abstinence for the conversion of our lives and the transformation of our society.”
“At every Mass, we should offer special prayers for our nation and her leaders, in order that the culture of death may be overcome and a civilization of love may be steadfastly advanced,” Archbishop Burke urged.
He added: “All Catholics throughout the nation should take part in Eucharistic adoration and in the praying of the rosary for the restoration of the respect for human life and for the safeguarding of the integrity of the family.”
The prelate emphasized, “In a culture marked by widespread and grave confusion and error about the most fundamental teachings of the moral law, our Catholic schools and universities must be beacons of truth and right conduct.”
He stated that the “granting of an honorary doctorate at Notre Dame University to our president who is as aggressively advancing an anti-life and anti-family agenda is a source of the gravest scandal.”
The archbishop explained: “In a culture which embraces an agenda of death, Catholics and Catholic institutions are necessarily counter-cultural.
“If we as individuals or our Catholic institutions are not willing to accept the burdens and the suffering necessarily involved in calling our culture to reform, then we are not worthy of the name Catholic.”
“Let us not give way to discouragement in our exercise of patriotism but rather be confident of the essential contribution which our Catholic faith makes to the life of our nation,” the prelate said.
He concluded, “May the courage and strength which comes to us from the Sacred Heart of Jesus enlighten our minds to see more clearly the gravity of the situation of our nation and inflame our hearts to do our part to transform the life of our nation, in accord with the natural moral law, that is, with what is just and serves the good of all.”