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Beyond the Fortnight for Freedom


GEORGE WEIGEL

Source:
National Review
Type:
Media/Opinion
Date:
7/4/2012

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ABSTRACTBeyond the Fortnight for Freedom - By George Weigel - The Corner - National Review Online Get FREE NRO Newsletters   Log In   |   Register Follow Us     July 9 Issue  Subscribe to NR  Renew  July 9 Issue   |   Subscribe   |   Renew Home The Corner The Agenda Campaign Spot The Home Front Right Field Bench Memos The Feed Media Blog Critical Condition The Tyranny Blog Larry Kudlow David Calling Exchequer Phi Beta Cons Planet Gore UK Between the Covers Tweet Tracker NR / Digital Subscribe: NR Subscribe: NR / Digital Give: NR / Digital NR Renewals & Changes Shop! Donate Media Kit Contact Close To: Your Email: Your Name: Subject: Shaw& Novak: On This of All Fourths of July Black: Post-Colonial Killing Fields Symposium: Got Summer Reading? Malkin: Obama’s Swiss-Cheese Campaign Goldberg: Live Free — and Uninsured Tanner: The States Resist Obamacare Hanson: Supreme Court Hypocrisies Thompson: The Roberts Opinion Loyola: Mexico’s Camelot Hanson: The Obama Foreign Policy Trinko: The Priebus Difference Woodruff: Pfizer’s Political CEO Murdock: Up in the Air Lowry: Obamacare: It’s Not Over Prager: Roberts and Intimidation Sowell: Judicial Betrayal Charen: The Court Reveals Obamacare’s Unworkability Weigel: The Roberts Opinion Joseph: Second to One McCarthy: Sovereignty, Preempted New on NRO . . . The Corner The one and only. About This Blog Archive E-Mail RSS Send Print   |  Text   Beyond the Fortnight for Freedom By  George Weigel July 4, 2012 4:57 P.M. Comments 0 Kraków, July 4. The sensitivity to local anniversaries in the Catholic liturgical calendar often makes for happy, if coincidental, intersections with the civil calendar. Thus the “Fortnight for Freedom,” a period of intensified prayer and work for religious liberty mandated by the U.S. Catholic bishops, began two weeks ago on the eve of the liturgical feats of Saints Thomas More and John Fisher — two Tudor-period martyrs who died defending the freedom of the Church — and ended on the Fourth of July. So it happened that my students and colleagues in the Tertio Millennio Seminar on the Free Society, holding its 21st annual assembly in Kraków, marked America’s Independence Day with a Mass of special local resonance: for July 4, in Poland’s ancient capital, is also the liturgical commemoration of the dedication of Wawel Cathedral. On reflection, that happenstance seemed more providential than coincidental. The cathedral, which is hard by the old Royal Palace atop the Wawel hill, the “Polish Zion,” is the historic and emotional heart of Poland. Its crypt shelters the mortal remains of many heroes of Polish history: King Władyslaw Jagiełło, victor over the Teutonic Knights at the 1410 Battle of Grunwald; King John III Sobieski, victor over the Ottomans and savior of Europe at the 1683 Battle of Vienna; Marshall Józef Piłsudski, founder of the Second Polish Republic in the aftermath of World War I; General Władyslaw Sikorski, leader of the Polish government-in-exile in World War II; and Tadeusz Kościuszko, friend of Thomas Jefferson, who fought for both American and Polish freedom. And at the heart of Wawel cathedral is the great silver tomb of St. Stanisław, the eleventh-century bishop of Kraków whose death during the reign of King Boleslaw II made him the Polish analogue to Thomas Becket. Poland was “baptized” in 966 when the Piast prince, Mieszko I, accepted Latin-rite Christianity, in a historic decision that oriented this Slavic country toward the West. The beginnings of the formal organization of the Church in Poland date to the erection of the Diocese of Kraków in the eleventh century; in those days, many Poles came to believe, the country was “baptized” again in the blood of the martyr-bishop Stanislaw, whose sacrifice set the pattern for the Church as the defensor civitatis, the defender of the nation and its liberties. That tradition was embodied in a particularly powerful way, of course, by another Cracovian bishop, Karol Wojtyła, whom the world came to know as John Paul II. The late pope’s affection for the United States, and his hope that it would remain a beacon of freedom rightly understood in a world confused about the true meaning of freedom, made the celebration of Independence Day at a Mass commemorating the eleventh-century dedication of the cathedral Wojtyla loved (and where his said his first Masses as a young priest in 1946) even more resonant. In his homily at our seminar Mass, Father Jaroslaw Kupczak, O.P., a distinguished student of the thought of John Paul II, discussed the millennium-long history of the Church in Kraków, and then illustrated its contemporary significance with a story that spoke movingly to Americans, celebrating Independence Day in a far country with which Amer.......