Religious freedom is not only freedom from repression but also freedom for active discipleship, said His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan, archbishop of New York, at a patriotic service June 30 in Orem, Utah.
“It includes the rights of religious believers, leaders and communities to engage society and to work actively in the public square,” said the Catholic leader during his first trip to Utah.
More than 3,000 people gathered in the Utah Valley University UCCU Center for the Sunday evening service of the America’s Freedom Festival.
While in Utah, Cardinal Dolan also met with President Russell M. Nelson; President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency; and President M. Russell Ballard, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. President Nelson presented the Catholic leader with a statue of the Christus.
In addition, Cardinal Dolan toured Temple Square, Welfare Square, the Bishops’ Central Storehouse and the Church’s welfare system.
During the Freedom Festival patriotic service, Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles introduced Cardinal Dolan — lauding His Eminence as a “bridge builder for all faiths” whose “commitment to the Savior Jesus Christ is evident in everything he does.”
That includes service as chairman of Catholic Relief Services, a member of the Board of Trustees of The Catholic University of America and a member of the Commission of Religious Leaders of New York. As the president of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops “he was extremely inclusive of all religions, of all faiths. He was a bridge builder who helped bring those who feel accountable to God together in a very unique and wonderful way,” said Elder Cook.
In addition, Cardinal Dolan’s work “in seminary education has influenced the life and ministry of many priests of the new millennium,” said Elder Cook.
Elder Cook said he was grateful for the opportunity to introduce Cardinal Dolan. On several occasions, Elder Cook has been hosted by Cardinal Dolan, for breakfast, at his residence next to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Cardinal Dolan is a warm and gracious friend.
He is a “good friend” with “an incredible sense of humor” who has been instrumental in opening important doors and relationships for Church leaders.
He has also supported joint humanitarian efforts with the Church. “Working together we have been able to alleviate misery in disaster situations and have accomplished things together that have been really wonderful,” Elder Cook said.
Following the terrorist bombing at the Brussels airport in 2016, during which four Latter-day Saint missionaries were seriously injured, Cardinal Dolan remarked to the national press, “with tender emotion, his love and concern for our missionaries.”
This “exemplifies the essence of this man” and his commitment to the Savior, said Elder Cook.
During his keynote address, Cardinal Dolan thanked the Church and community leaders for the “cherished invitation and warm welcome” and spoke about religious freedom — “our first and most cherished liberty, in danger, I fear, of being diluted.”
“What are we here for this evening?” he said. “We Americans celebrate what is ever in peril of being taken for granted or lost,” said Cardinal Dolan, quoting former U.S. President Ronald Reagan.
The promotion and protection of religious liberty “is being characterized today as some narrow, paranoid, alt-right, self-serving crusade,” he said. “You and I stand together this evening proposing, on the contrary, that freedom of religion has been and is the most driving force for every enlightened, unshackling, noble cause in American history.”
Quoting Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at the Freedom Festival three years ago, Cardinal Dolan called religious freedom “the very cornerstone of peace in our world. It gives us all a place to determine for ourselves what we think and believe to follow the truth God whispers in our hearts.”
The defense of religious freedom “happens to be the quintessential American cause,” the “foundation of all other human rights,” he said.
“My proposition to all of us this evening is that in letting freedom ring, we citizens of any and all faiths, or none at all, are not paranoid in self-serving in defending what we hoard as ours, but are in fact protecting the country we love. We act not sectarians, but as responsible citizens we act on behalf of the truth about the human person.”
The civilization called American democracy has roots that reach back to Jerusalem, Athens and Rome — to the Bible “and its teaching about the dignity of the human person,” to the ancient Greek conviction that “reasons that get to the truths built within the world and ourselves” and to the Roman proposition that “the rule of law trumps brute force,” he said.
Cardinal Dolan added, “All we want … is the freedom to carry the convictions of a faith-formed conscience into our public lives.”