Archbishop O’Malley Sees Dual Threat in Today’s Culture

Truth and Freedom Under Siege, Says Boston Prelate

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota, JAN. 22, 2004 ( Truth and freedom are threatened in “our very hostile culture today,” says Archbishop Sean O’Malley of Boston.

The archbishop made this point in a speech he delivered to about 500 faithful at the Communion and Liberation national conference here Monday.

He told his audience that without truth, there can be no freedom, and without freedom, there can be no love.

“That is why the Church is very concerned about freedom,” Archbishop O’Malley said. “Our mission in the Church is to lead people to the truth so that they can be free, so that together we can salvage a civilization of love. Truth and freedom are threatened in our very hostile culture today.”

The archbishop’s talk was part of a panel discussion with theologian Monsignor Lorenzo Albacete on “The Church’s Contribution to the Quest for Freedom,” based on the book, “Why the Church?” by Monsignor Luigi Giussani. The latter founded the ecclesial movement Communion and Liberation in 1954.

In the discussion of the book, Archbishop O’Malley pointed to possible sources of relativism in society.

“Perhaps the idolatry of freedom has led to the belief that we can choose our own truth because the truth as absolute is rejected as too confining, too demanding of the autonomous self,” he said. “But the traditional Catholic approach is faith seeking understanding.”

Archbishop O’Malley looked to Church history for role models for today’s Catholics.

“In past centuries the very ideal of the Catholic faith was martyrdom,” he said. “The martyrs, who were witnesses to truth, had such great freedom in their lives that they could lay their lives down in a supreme act of love.”

The prelate outlined the modern response necessary to combat the relativistic culture.

“Only in a contemplative framework can the Church achieve all of these things and lead us to that authentic love that will allow us to make a gift of ourselves,” Archbishop O’Malley said.

“In so doing,” he added, “we become martyrs, witnesses that will invite others to embark on the same path that leads to Christ. In this irrational age, we will only be able to convince people by the martyrdom of self-giving.”

The archbishop’s statements ended the four-day Communion and Liberation conference, which included Sunday Mass with Bishop Bernard Harrington of Winona, Minnesota, a video presentation of an interview with Monsignor Giussani, and workshops on education and teen-agers, work and the economy, culture and family life.

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