Hewitt: The First Freedom

Pope Francis has left America now, but long after his return to the Vatican, indeed long after he has left this life for the next, American courts will be quoting the pontiff’s words in opinions dealing with the “first freedom,” the freedom of religion.

The Pope delivered the most important address of his trip from a lectern used by Abraham Lincoln to deliver the Gettysburg Address.

The heart of his remarks deserve a close rereading:

He said [and I quote]: “In a world where various forms of modern tyranny seek to suppress religious freedom, or try to reduce it to a subculture without right to a voice in the public square, or to use religion as a pretext for hatred and brutality, it is imperative that the followers of the various religions join their voices in calling for peace, tolerance and respect for the dignity and rights of others.”

He continued:

“Let us preserve liberty, let us take care of it: freedom of conscience, religious freedom, the freedom of every person, family, and nation, which causes other rights.”