Catholic Action: Fortnight (14 Days) of Prayer for Freedom Begins in United States
simply look at the way in which some Catholics approach political participation. Catholic Social teaching offers us principles for action. It is meant to be received with a mature faith, one which embraces the call to form our consciences. It is then meant to reform our way of life, including our political participation.
The Bishops Fortnight for Freedom is an example of the hierarchy calling the faithful to Catholic Action and then properly equipping them for the task. The resources offered by the Bishops concerning the teaching of the Catholic Church concerning religious liberty - as well as the explanation of the Right as secured within the founding documents of the American experiment- prepare the faithful for the necessary defense which must be taken in the public square in this time of great need when the Right is threatened.
Make no mistake, the threat to Religious Freedom and the mission of the Church in the United States is real and substantial. The Bishops see it and are acting properly and courageously. On Monday, May 21, 2012, a 62 page Federal Court Complaint was filed by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York and other Catholic institutions, Dioceses and organizations. The legal action has already made US Church history and the results shape Church State/ Constitutional Law for years to come.
It was one of twelve lawsuits filed against the Federal Government of the United States. The Twelve Lawsuits were coordinated by the prestigious power house law firm of Jones Day and strategically filed throughout the United States. The complaints represent 43 dioceses, hospitals, schools and church agencies. They seek declaratory and injunctive relief. They also demand a jury trial.
The introductory paragraph of the complaint filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, summarized the fundamental legal issue, "This lawsuit is about one of America's most cherished freedoms: the freedom to practice one's religion without government interference. It is not about whether people have a right to abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception. Those services are freely available in the United States, and nothing prevents the Government itself from making them more widely available."
"Here, however, the Government seeks to require Plaintiffs-all Catholic entities-to violate their sincerely held religious beliefs by providing, paying for, and/or facilitating access to those products and services. American history and tradition, embodied in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act ("RFRA"), safeguard religious entities from such overbearing and oppressive governmental action. Plaintiffs therefore seek relief in this Court to protect this most fundamental of American rights."
The complaints allege violations of the First Amendments' Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses as well as violations of the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act and the Administrative procedures Act. They asked the Courts for what is called a Declaratory Judgment. In effect, the Plaintiffs ask the Federal Courts to declare that the questionable provisions of the Affordable Care Act and the HHS Mandate are unconstitutional and then to enjoin or prohibit the Government from enforcing those provisions of the Law and the regulations. They further ask for Attorneys fees and costs.
I believe these lawsuits will be successful. The actions of this Administration are unconstitutional. Though the pending US Supreme Court opinion concerning the constitutionality of the individual mandate at the heart of the Affordable Care Act may make these lawsuits moot, it will not stop the growing movement which they reflect; a movement for a New Catholic Action.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, , said of the lawsuits, "We have tried negotiation with the Administration and legislation with the Congress - and we'll keep at it - but there's still no fix. Time is running out, and our valuable ministries and fundamental rights hang in the balance, so we have to resort to the courts now."
"Though the Conference is not a party to the lawsuits, we applaud this courageous action by so many individual dioceses, charities, hospitals and schools across the nation, in coordination with the law firm of Jones Day. It is also a compelling display of the unity of the Church in defense of religious liberty."
"It's also a great show of the diversity of the Church's ministries that serve the common good and that are jeopardized by the mandate - ministries to the poor, the sick, and the uneducated, to people of any faith or no faith at all."
The HHS action has prompted a tide of resistance and a movement of solidarity which is strengthening the Catholic Church in America. She is rising up like a sleeping giant and being strengthened in adversity. Her response is also inspiring other Christians, other people of faith and all people of good will to defend America's First Freedom, religious freedom. This is one more example of how God, in His infinite mercy and love, can pull good even out of what it was intended.
The HHS Mandate came one day after Pope Benedict XVI addressed a group of US Bishops during their visit. He warned them of the growth of radical secularism in the United States and the accompanying threats to the fundamental Right to Religious Freedom so integral to the American experiment. His warning was timely, even prophetic.
We urge all of our readers in the United States and around the world to enter into the Fortnight for Freedom with all of your heart, mind, strength and soul. We will keep you up to date as the period of prayer, study, catechesis and public action progresses.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Fortnight, Religious Freedom, Free Exercise, First freedom, US Bishops, Social Doctrine, Deacon Keith Fournier
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