Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

6/23/2012 (4 years 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.

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

6/23/2012 (4 years 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: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copyright 2016 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for August 2016
Universal:
Sports: That sports may be an opportunity for friendly encounters between peoples and may contribute to peace in the world.
Evangelization: Living the Gospel: That Christians may live the Gospel, giving witness to faith, honesty, and love of neighbor.



Comments


More U.S.

Ken Blackwell: Arizona Attorney General Brnovich Defends the First Amendment

Image of Ken Blackwell is a Senior Fellow for Human Rights and Constitution Governance at the Family Research Council. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty

By Ken Blackwell

Jeffries was clearly not proselytizing or evangelizing, but did he somehow violate the separation of church and state because his emails touched on religion and the sacred? It's here that Watkins' analysis becomes both sublime and devastating. Why should Jeffries ... continue reading


Deacon Keith Fournier: Martyrdom of John the Baptizer Calls Us to Defend Marriage Watch

Image of The beheading of John the Baptizer

By Deacon Keith Fournier

John the Baptizer was beheaded. He died a martyrs death because he refused to deny the truth about the indissolubility of marriage and Gods eternal and unchangeable plan for marriage. We live in an age which also denies that truth. An age which goes even further ... continue reading


St. Augustine on a Personal Relationship with Jesus Watch

Image of St. Augustine

By Deacon Keith Fournier

But we too can encounter Christ in reading Sacred Scripture, in prayer, in the liturgical life of the Church. We can touch Christ's Heart and feel him touching ours. Only in this personal relationship with Christ, only in this encounter with the Risen One do we ... continue reading


Overdose crisis leaves investigators desperate to get dealers off the streets Watch

Image of Heroin overdoses have spiked in the last week.

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The use of fentanyl-laced heroin has resulted in an overdose crisis in the US over the course of a single week. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to Cincinnati.com, a rise in overdoses across the city has left police and emergency responders exhausted and ... continue reading


Five-year-old invents 'Kindness Day' Watch

Image of Five-year-old boy treats officers to a lunch from Subway.

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Five-year-old William Evertz Jr. saved up his allowance for several months in hopes of purchasing a Power Wheels police car but realized his money would better benefit others. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - On Wednesday, the Winslow Police Department in ... continue reading


Two nuns found murdered in Mississippi home Watch

Image of Police have found two nuns slain in a Mississippi home.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Two Catholic nuns have been found dead in their home after they didn't show up for their work. The pair worked as nurse practitioners out of state. Police are investigating the deaths of two Catholic nuns after they missed work. The pair were found together in a ... continue reading


1 city, 2 days, 52 OD's Watch

Image of Opioids in the United States have appeared in the form of elephant tranquilizers.

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Heroin laced with carfentanil, the most potent commercial opioid known to be 10,000 times stronger than morphine, is being dealt on streets across the United States. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to CNN, carfentanil significantly slows breathing and is ... continue reading


The shocking NEW reason why young people are leaving church Watch

Image of The youth are leaving the church, but why?

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

It's a surprising find, but it's also true. Americans are giving up on God. A Pew survey reveals that half of the people who have quit going to church no longer believe in God. LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - Nearly a quarter of the nation no longer attends ... continue reading


Massachusetts nun loses rosary to lesbian couple Watch

Image of Lesbian muggers rob nun of her rosary beads.

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

A Sister at the Daughters of Mary of Nazareth convent was mugged by a lesbian couple, who left with the nun's rosary. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to the <a ... continue reading


'Right Before I Die': Photographer reveals heartbreaking truth on taboo topic Watch

Image of One photographer captured people's dreams as they drew closer to death (Shutterstock).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Photographer Andrew George decided to interview and photograph people close to death for a project titled "Right Before I Die." LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - George's project earned an exhibit at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles and he explained the ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Jeremiah 1:17-19
17 'As for you, prepare yourself for action. Stand up and tell them all I ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 71:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 15, 17
1 In you, Yahweh, I take refuge, I shall never be put to ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 6:17-29
17 Now it was this same Herod who had sent to have John arrested, and had ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for August 29th, 2016 Image

St. Sabina
August 29: St. Sabina's feast day is August 29th. We know ... Read More