The Son of God came to the earth and fulfilled the promises made to Israel. He gave the gifts of the New Covenant to His chosen representatives. He established the new and everlasting Israel—with twelve patriarchs. He gave to these leaders the sacred inheritance, and directed them to share it with the world.
In other words, in the vast and complicated world at the time of Tiberius Caesar—a world full of countless tribes, languages, nations, philosophies, temples, governments, recreational activities, hairstyles, and musical genres—in this enormous world, twelve men held the eternal fire of God’s truth and grace in their humble hands.
We call these twelve the…Apostles.
Every generation of Christians experiences the desire for authenticity of faith. We want Christianity that is “Biblical,” “Scriptural,” “orthodox.” “original.” The best term would be “apostolic.” We want the faith and the spiritual life of the Apostles.
Okay: what transpired? Over the course of two millennia? The world kept turning, with its stunning diversity of changing attitudes and hairstyles. Everything that stood on the earth in the year of Peter and Paul’s martyrdom—everything that stood then fell away and got changed to something else. Nothing under the sun remained the same, except…the faith and discipline of the Apostolic See of Rome. Through the course of 2,000 years, the successors of St. Peter have preserved what the Apostles received from Christ. Through untold twists and turns of political history, through countless “regime changes,” the See of Peter has endured, preserving the revelation about the true love, the loving truth, of Almighty God.
Church and state. Religious freedom. The rights with which the Creator has endowed man. The dignity and inviolability of man’s conscience, of woman’s conscience…
The gift we have received through the 2,000-year miracle of the Roman Church: this gift puts us in communion with the all-powerful Creator of the world. This gift fills us with heavenly grace. This gift gives us hope for eternal life in heaven.
One thing we can therefore say without hesitation, without the slightest doubt: No human authority ever has the right to interfere with our reception of this gift.
We concede to our government all its legitimate powers. Running a country is no picnic. Maintaining law and order? Not easy. What could pose a more difficult challenge than guiding society towards the common good?
We pray for the President, Congress, the courts, governors, legislators, police, fire, rescue—everybody involved in serving the body politic.
But, please, public officials; please do not tell us that following the teaching of the Pope is illegal. Don’t impose fines on Catholic hospitals for following Catholic teaching. Don’t make Catholic charities close down–just because we say that two men can’t marry each other. Please.
Everyone has the right to hear the teaching of the Apostles, to believe in it, and to follow it. No power on earth has the right to make it illegal to stay in communion with the Apostolic See.