US bishops call for “fortnight for freedom” this summer to pray for religious liberty

From the newly-released Statement on Religious Liberty:

Religious liberty is not only about our ability to go to Mass on Sunday or pray the Rosary at home. It is about whether we can make our contribution to the common good of all Americans. Can we do the good works our faith calls us to do, without having to compromise that very same faith? Without religious liberty properly understood, all Americans suffer, deprived of the essential contribution in education, health care, feeding the hungry, civil rights, and social services that religious Americans make every day, both here at home and overseas.

What is at stake is whether America will continue to have a free, creative, and robust civil society—or whether the state alone will determine who gets to contribute to the common good, and how they get to do it. Religious believers are part of American civil society, which includes neighbors helping each other, community associations, fraternal service clubs, sports leagues, and youth groups. All these Americans make their contribution to our common life, and they do not need the permission of the government to do so. Restrictions on religious liberty are an attack on civil society and the American genius for voluntary associations.

The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America issued a statement about the administration’s contraception and sterilization mandate that captured exactly the danger that we face:

Most troubling, is the Administration’s underlying rationale for its decision, which appears to be a view that if a religious entity is not insular, but engaged with broader society, it loses its “religious” character and liberties. Many faiths firmly believe in being open to and engaged with broader society and fellow citizens of other faiths. The Administration’s ruling makes the price of such an outward approach the violation of an organization’s religious principles. This is deeply disappointing.5

This is not a Catholic issue. This is not a Jewish issue. This is not an Orthodox, Mormon, or Muslim issue. It is an American issue.

Both our civil year and liturgical year point us on various occasions to our heritage of freedom. This year, we propose a special “fortnight for freedom,” in which bishops in their own dioceses might arrange special events to highlight the importance of defending our first freedom. Our Catholic institutions also could be encouraged to do the same, especially in cooperation with other Christians, Jews, people of other faiths, and indeed, all who wish to defend our most cherished freedom.

We suggest that the fourteen days from June 21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More—to July 4, Independence Day, be dedicated to this “fortnight for freedom”—a great hymn of prayer for our country. Our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face of persecution by political power—St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More, St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome. Culminating on Independence Day, this special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action would emphasize both our Christian and American heritage of liberty. Dioceses and parishes around the country could choose a date in that period for special events that would constitute a great national campaign of teaching and witness for religious liberty.

In addition to this summer’s observance, we also urge that the Solemnity of Christ the King—a feast born out of resistance to totalitarian incursions against religious liberty—be a day specifically employed by bishops and priests to preach about religious liberty, both here and abroad.

To all our fellow Catholics, we urge an intensification of your prayers and fasting for a new birth of freedom in our beloved country. We invite you to join us in an urgent prayer for religious liberty.

Almighty God, Father of all nations,
For freedom you have set us free in Christ Jesus (Gal 5:1).
We praise and bless you for the gift of religious liberty,
the foundation of human rights, justice, and the common good.
Grant to our leaders the wisdom to protect and promote our liberties;
By your grace may we have the courage to defend them, for ourselves and for all those who live in this blessed land.
We ask this through the intercession of Mary Immaculate, our patroness,
and in the name of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
with whom you live and reign, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Read the whole thing.

Comments

  1. I hope everyone is now seeing the reality with this administration. A re-elected Obama would just be emboldened.

  2. A fortnight? How clever. How about a good old Catholic “novena?”

  3. Fortnight? That may be a term leaving people scratching their heads.
    I get the alliteration – fortnight, freedom – clever by half.
    I know the word – which strikes me as very British – because I studied in the UK. But perhaps it’ll catch on here.

  4. Holly Hansen says:

    The Tea Party at prayer. Lord have mercy!

  5. Mark Greta says:

    Great idea. Of course there are many others working on this attack on religious freedom as well. More rallies planned mid summer.

  6. deacon john m. bresnahan says:

    Already we have let the Gay Movement drive Catholics in Ma. from the traditional ministry of helping orphans. And it has nothing to do with state funds, but of the use (abuse really) of the state’s licensing power.
    On the federal level this anti–Catholic, anti-Christian administration has been using its power to interfere with who Lutherans consider to be their clergy (shot down by a unanimous Supreme Court ) and barred Catholics from some federal programs because of the Church’s refusal to facilitate abortions in those programs.
    There are those who will say that what the bishops are proposing is a breaching of the Wall of separation between Church and State (a line NOT in the U.S. Constitution). But the reverse is true. It is the Church’s traditional right to be involved in the world beyond church walls that is under attack from secularists and bigots in Washington and in the states.
    And for those who know their Church History it is classic anti-Catholic maneuvering that is being used in Washington to split the Church. Traditionally anti-Catholics find Catholics who disagree with the Church leadership of bishops and treat those dissenters as if they somehow spoke for the Church and make deals with them to further split the Church.

  7. Sure, I’ll pray for this intention. Prayer is always the best way to approach problems, especially those which pertain to the common good. While I’m at it, I’ll add a few intentions of my own. Such as that as a society we will refrain from demonizing those we disagree with in this election year, recognizing that they, too, desire the common good. Also, that when all is said and done, and our quadrennial mud fight is over, that we will try to work together and heal the divisions that our political polarization has caused.

  8. I have written a blog post as well on the Bishops’ new statement and the fortnight part of it. Lots to think about, but one thing for sure–for better or for worse, Richard John Neuhaus would love this statement. http://debatingobama.blogspot.com/2012/04/bishops-statement-shows-neuhaus-lives.html

  9. midwestlady says:

    You certainly have a rosy idea of reality. There are people who wish evil because they like it, or at least hate goodness more. Don’t be naive.

  10. midwestlady says:

    This is exactly correct. And it’s a very old tactic.

  11. Having been on this earth 61 years I am well aware that “…There are people who wish evil because they like it, or at least hate goodness more. ” However I am also aware that my coworkers, family members, neighbors and others who are of a different political party, or who have different beliefs than I do don’t fall under that category of sociopathy simply because of their beliefs. If it’s naive to pray that we rise above our differences, I don’t really care.

  12. This is a total joke. The morally bankrupt hierarchy of America have hurt the Catholic church more than anything. The bishops are using the Obama administration as the outside threat so that we pitiful Catholics may feel really persecuted. Read the New York Times coverage of the pedophile trial now going on, and the the Monsignor Lynn trial in Philadelphia where yesterday’s testimony was from a bishop who was trying to bring opprobrium on a nun for blowing the whistle on a known pedophile who was receiving pornography involving children at the rectory. The bishop covered up for the child molester, and went after the nun instead . Earlier testimony was that Cardinal Bevilaqua would have also been indicted but he turned senile and then died before he could be compelled to testify in the current case. This is our wonderful church leadership !!! Their pitiful testimony is all like Nuremberg ! They all were just following orders, and only Hitler, excuse me , the Archdiocese, was really responsible. I didn’t do nutthin!
    Don’t forget the bishop in Kansas also going on trial soon. Remember how Cardinal Law suddenly slipped out of the country ? Has anyone seen him in the USA since , or would he be caught at the border? None of our brave bishops and cardinals ever have deenounced these fellow scoundrels of theirs. But oh, how easy it is to all complain about the civil government, and how these rotten democrats are ruining our freedoms!
    This whole hue and cry about “religious freedom” and religious persecution is a scam to distract the gullible faithful so they keep getting our money and continue with the secrecy an abominations until caught by the CIVIL authorities. I will never forget the ranting from the pulpits in three different churches in the ’90′s about how all these sex scandals were ” concocted by enemies of the Church!” and how evil the secular press is for publishing these stories. This religious freedom campaign is pathetic, and I hope that pastors do not buy it.

  13. Barbara P says:

    Melody
    Naive or not, I join you in your prayer. We are one Body in His Body despite our differences of opinion.

  14. midwestlady says:

    It’s not naive to pray that we rise above differences, but the fact remains that you can’t count on everyone to do so. Some will not because they will find evil more alluring.

  15. Bill Kelly says:

    The Bishops need to get more political and say what is needed – This President and his administration must be voted out of office. Put the matter directly at the Muslim’s feet.

  16. Bill Kelly:
    “Put the matter directly at the Muslim’s feet.”
    How does that comment contribute anything constructive to your desire to vote President Obama out of office?

  17. naturgesetz says:

    Peter, there is no logical connection between the abuse crisis and the issue of religious freedom, so your post is one big non sequitur.

  18. Your post is actually the non sequitur since Peter’s argument doesn’t depend on a “logical connection” between the abuse crisis and the religious freedom issue. Peter, as I read him, is saying that the religious freedom issue has been ginned up as a distraction from the abuse crisis. Although I’m highly skeptical of the religious freedom issue, I’m not sure the motivation is to distract from the abuse crisis.

  19. naturesetz:
    There may not be a logical connection between the abuse crisis and of religious freedom in the way that Peter has expressed it.

    But I do see another kind of connection.

    As legitimate as some of the recent demands of the U.S. Bishops for respect for the our laws and religious traditions, for years, they have shown a flagrant disrespect for civil authority and laws by hiding and sheltering priests who have sexually abused young people. Were it not for the civil authorities stepping in, and ignoring the accusations by some Catholics of anti-Catholic bigotry, many of priests would never have been prosecuted and brought to justice.

  20. pagansister says:

    Since this is America, the Church or anyone else has the right to do all the prayers they want for whatever they want. Perhaps many will follow the call from the US bishops.

    Yes, Bill Kelly, what does this have to do with the Muslims? (and their feet :o) ) President Obama happens to be a Christian.

  21. Exactly. In politics we have a saying, “Poltical wounds are self inflicted” and God knows that the bishops have wounded themselves plenty of times and not JUST with the sex scandal, either. The relgious freedom arguement won’t fly because they have lost the trust of a large number of Catholics and one’s who lisen to them are already on board.
    Remember there are a lot of non-Catholics who stuck in Catholic health plans or the only hospital in town is Catholic and they resent it. I know of number of them and they’d move if they could, but can’t.
    The religious freddom thing is another self inflicted wound because the Bishops come off as dictators.

  22. What Muslim?

  23. pagansister says:

    HMS: Excellent points regarding the disrespect the U.S. Bishops had for civil authority when it came to the abuse situation and their lack of response, and now they want respect for the Church’s laws and religious traditions.

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  1. [...] US Bishops have issued a Statement on Religious Liberty. (H/T Deacon Greg) It is a call to resist unjust laws that, in effect, abolish the freedom of religion. They [...]

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