Archbishop Kurtz speaks on religious liberty at Fancy Farm

By Marnie McAllister, Record Assistant Editor

FANCY FARM, Ky. — Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz joined in the political melee Aug. 2 at the annual Fancy Farm Picnic sponsored by St. Jerome Church near Paducah, Ky.

The Catholic parish’s summer picnic has long been central to Kentucky’s political campaigns. Last weekend, its speakers’ platform featured U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell and his rival Alison Lundergan Grimes, as well as a spate of other officials and their rivals from around Kentucky.

This year, the Archbishop of Louisville, who is also the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), took the Fancy Farm podium for about four minutes. He used his time to rally support for religious liberty, particularly the freedom to serve others and the common good.

The archbishop opened his speech with a reference to Kentucky’s motto, which is “united we stand, divided we fall.”

“It’s talking about the character of our community; it’s talking about what it means to be civil, what it means to sometimes have different opinions without being disagreeable,” he said.

He also noted that Kentucky’s designation as a commonwealth means, according to his dictionary, “an agreement or a pact of the people for the common good.”

All people have their own interests and desires, he said, “But when we come in political formation we come because of the common good.

“That concern for others … is born and nourished in healthy and strong families and in healthy and strong local communities. That’s what we praise today.”

He noted that on the Fourth of July, he delivered the homily at the closing Mass of the Fortnight for Freedom, celebrated at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. The Fortnight, sponsored by the USCCB, is an annual two-week period of prayer and education focused on religious liberty. The theme this year was: “Freedom to Serve.”

In the homily, “I said America is at its best, America is at her best, when people of all faiths are free to serve. We desire to cherish and to protect religious freedom so that we can serve others. Just think of all the religious communities, the hospitals, the Catholic Charities … all the charities that have made the fabric of our nation, a fabric that is based on service of others,” he told his listeners at Fancy Farm.

“America is also at her best when people of faith and people of good will bring their moral and civic convictions to the public arena,” he said. “The First Amendment of the Constitution of course safeguards that no religion will ever be imposed upon any one of us, but it also guarantees the free exercise of our religion.

“People of good will bring their moral convictions to the public square, our convictions that shape the way we vote and, God bless us, the way people are willing sacrificially to run for office,” he added.

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