Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

6/23/2012 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Make no mistake, the threat to Religious Freedom and the mission of the Church in the United States is real and substantial

The Catholic Bishops of the United States called for a fourteen day period of prayer, study, teaching and public action to defend the first freedom, religious freedom. The move is unparalleled in US history. I believe the leadership of Cardinal Timothy Dolan and Archbishop William Lori, and all of the Bishops, will not only bring about the desired result but signals the beginning of a New Catholic Action in the United States.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.

Article Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

6/23/2012 (1 year ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Fortnight, Religious Freedom, Free Exercise, First freedom, US Bishops, Social Doctrine, Deacon Keith Fournier


WASHINGTON, D.C. (Catholic Online) - The Catholic Bishops of the United States called for a fourteen day period of prayer, study, teaching and public action to defend the first freedom, religious freedom. The move is unparalleled in US history. I believe the leadership of Cardinal Timothy Dolan and Archbishop William Lori, and all of the Bishops, will not only bring about the desired result but signals the beginning of a New Catholic Action in the United States.

In the Bishops words from their website dedicated to the Fortnight. "The fourteen days from June 21-the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More-to July 4, Independence Day, are 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 prayerstudy, catechesis, and public action emphasize both our Christian and American heritage of liberty. Dioceses and parishes around the country have scheduled special events that support a great national campaign of teaching and witness for religious liberty."

I have been involved at the intersection of faith and culture as a lawyer and an activist for the causes at the heart of the social mission of the Church, life, family, freedom and solidarity, for a long time. I have NEVER seen a concerted campaign of prayer, teaching and Catholic Action led by the US Bishops like this one.

I have also never seen such a response from the faithful, other Christians, other people of faith and other people of good will. It not only gives me great hope for the Church it makes me proud to be a Catholic.  It is also a model for a New Catholic Action which could be applied across the spectrum of the effort to knead the true Social teaching of the Church into human culture. The Social teaching of the Church is not meant simply for Catholics, other Christians, or other religious people. It offers insights and principles for action which can help to build a truly just, human and free society for all men and women.  

In the past, when one spoke of the "Social Teaching" of the catholic Church, it was found in the Natural Law and expounded upon in the Sacred Scriptures, the Christian tradition, the documents of the Second Vatican Council, contemporary encyclical letters, apostolic letters and exhortations as well as summarized in the Catholic Catechism. In 2004 the "Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace" released the "Compendium of the Social Doctrine of Church" which puts it all in one place. 

The Compendium is a necessity for any Catholic who wants to inform their political, cultural, economic and social participation properly. It is beautifully written, arranged in a very readable format, well indexed and thoroughly footnoted to the Scriptures, council documents, early Christian sources and magisterial teaching. It should be in every Catholic home. It should become the source book for any Catholic concerned about effective participation in the culture, the economic order and the political arena. The Compendium is the Manual for informing a New Catholic Action.

Due to some poor teaching in the arena of moral theology - of which the Social teaching is a branch - too many of the lay faithful have been confused on subjects of profound importance to living as Christians and acting as faithful citizens in the political, cultural and social spheres. It also led to people speaking as though "conscience" somehow equated with our "feelings" or was an aspect of our own personal opinion.

Not only do our consciences need to be formed and informed, they can also become deformed and regularly need to be re-formed. That is all too evident when we 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.

---


Pope Francis calls for your 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women:
That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lordís invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.



Comments


More U.S.

Finally Justice! Small town city manager gets 12 years in jail on corruption charges Watch

Image of Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo's party came crashing down when it was revealed in 2010 that Rizzo was giving himself an annual salary and benefits package of $1.5 million.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Bell, California is a small town with less than 36,000 people. That didn't stop City Manager Robert Rizzo, along with his friends, from awarding themselves hefty raises and drawing yearly salaries as high as $1.5 million. It was fun while it lasted - now Rizzo ... continue reading


The Birth of Catholic Evangelism Watch

Image of I recently interviewed Jeff Cavins  for my weekly show  on Ave Maria Radio.  Jeff, who is nationally known for his study guides to the Bible, has just taken a job as Director of Evangelism at the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.  It's a significant point in this nation's Church history that an apologist/educator with EWTN origins has taken a significant job inside an archdiocese.

By Deal W. Hudson

In spite of being ignored, and in some cases blacklisted, several of the hosts of EWTN radio and TV shows grew ministries of their own in the evangelistic Catholic style of Mother Angelica's still-prospering network. Jeff Cavins is one of the most successful of ... continue reading


Good Friday: Behold the Wood of the Cross Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

This is Good Friday. This is the day when the whole world stands still. We recall the great Sacrifice offered on the second tree on Golgotha's Hill. There, the one St. Paul calls the New Adam (1 Cor.15), in the perfect obedience of love, did for us  what we ... continue reading


Suffering, Struggle and the Christian Revolution Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

The Christian tradition instructs us that even undeserved and unmerited suffering, when joined in love to the sufferings of Jesus Christ, can produce extraordinary fruit within us - and then through us, as we change. This is a part of the teaching on the mystery ... continue reading


FORCED BESTIALITY: Evil teenage girls sexually assault autistic boy - and record it for posterity Watch

Image of Seventeen-year-old Lauren Bush along with her 15-year-old accomplice are accused by the St. Mary's County sheriff's department on numerous charges.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In an episode shocking for its sheer cruelty, two teenage girls in Maryland are now in custody after they repeatedly abused a 16-year-old autistic boy - eventually making him perform sexual acts with a family pet - and recording it all on their cell phones. LOS ... continue reading


HOW LONG BEFORE THE SYSTEM BREAKS? Working Americans increasingly made to pay for those on welfare Watch

Image of Those who work in America are increasingly being made to pay for those who don't -- in the manner of an over-burdened ox.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

If you're an American who awakes each day to begin a day of toil you have no interest in, take heed: There are only more reasons to hit your pillow in frustration each night as you drift off to sleep. You are an endangered species, and the media has not rallied ... continue reading


Ron Paul warns Feds may stage 'Waco styled' raid Watch

Image of Cliven Bundy has been fighting with the Bureau of Land Management for 20 years over his cattle and grazing rights.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

While Cliven Bundy, his family, their supporters, and myriad militiamen forced federal agents from the Bureau of Land Management to back off of the Bundy's Nevada ranch and release hundreds of captured cattle, one politician warns that the feds could be planning ... continue reading


What does this say about America? More people getting food stamps than women working full-time Watch

Image of There were only 15,678,000 women who worked full-time, year-round in the United States in 1969.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It's a distressing figure that shines a most unflattering light on affairs here in the United States. According to recent statistics, those  participating in the food stamp program, or SNAP outnumbered the number of women who worked full-time, year-round ... continue reading


Palm/Passion Sunday: Will We Make This Week Holy By Encountering Jesus Christ? Watch

Image of Holy Week invites us to let go of self and embrace the Lord Jesus anew through saying Yes to the invitation to continuing conversion. How desperately we all need to hear the Good news that we can begin again!

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Palm/ Passion Sunday: Make This Holy Week a Deep Encounter With Jesus Christ!During this week called Holy, the Lord Jesus is extending His saving Hand to each one of us anew. The timeless one has broken into time and now transforms it from within. The question is ... continue reading


Living Among the Pharisees Watch

Image of Christ Before the High Priest

By Deal W. Hudson

I will not quote directly from the article - there is no need to infect readers with the Phariseeism pervading Ruse's psychological/spiritual analysis of Thomas Williams. The readers can judge for themselves. I've been the target of similar, and worse, ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Isaiah 52:13--53:12
13 Look, my servant will prosper, will grow great, ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 31:2, 6, 12-13, 15-16, 17, 25
2 turn your ear to me, make haste. Be for me a ... Read More

Gospel, John 18:1--19:42
1 After he had said all this, Jesus left with his ... Read More

Reading 2, Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9
14 Since in Jesus, the Son of God, we have the ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 18th, 2014 Image

St. Apollonius the Apologist
April 18: Martyr whose Apologia, or defense of the faith, is considered ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter