'This year, at the suggestion of Archbishop Wilton Gregory, who is heading up a task force on peace in the cities, we instead gathered for Mass at St. Peter Claver Parish in West Baltimore.' CNS photo/Bob Roller
I spent much of my time at the USCCB's annual Fall General Assembly in Baltimore. Our gathering officially began on Monday but those who serve on committees usually arrive early to attend meetings over the weekend.
When we arrived in Baltimore on Saturday (11/13), some of us took the occasion to see the new film, "Hacksaw Ridge." I thought it a very powerful film that underscores the importance of faith and conscience in people's lives.
It is the story of a young man, Desmond Doss, who is a Seventh-day Adventist. He grew up with a very violent father, and made a promise to God that he would never take a life. So, when World War II came along, he was a conscientious objector and wanted to serve as a medic in the Army. The officers and the other soldiers mistreated him terribly because of his religious beliefs, but he persevered and was sent to Okinawa. There, he carried 75 wounded soldiers off the battlefield, and each time he would pray that God would help him "get one more."
...It was a powerful story, particularly in today's world in which the secular culture sees religious conviction as being outdated and that religious freedom is seen as just bigotry. In this film, you see the importance of the contribution that religious sentiment and conscience rights have made in the history of our country and in the history of the world.