As Catholics and allied persons of faith continue to advocate protecting religious liberty as our first, most cherished freedom, threats aimed at silencing religious expression continue to mount. A torrent of legal rulings aimed at redefining marriage has put religious business owners in other states at risk of financial ruin for refusing participation in same-sex “weddings.”
Any day now, the U.S. Supreme Court will issue rulings on religious liberty in the cases of Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius, which are challenging the constitutionality of the HHS contraceptive mandate. In the meantime, a federal court ruled that the Catholic Benefits Association and its more than 450 employer members are exempt from the federal mandate requiring employers to provide contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs to employees.
But so many threats to our religious liberty remain. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has again called for the faithful to observe a Fortnight for Freedom, beginning Saturday, June 21 and ending on Friday, July 4 with special Masses in Baltimore and Washington, D.C. The theme for this year’s Fortnight is “Freedom to Serve,” highlighting why religious liberty enables the Church to continue to carry out its mission of spreading the Gospel and serving those in need. Watch this short video exploring why the Fortnight is important here.
Before the Fortnight begins the USCCB will join the National Organization for Marriage and other allies for the national Marriage March on Thursday, June 19 in Washington, D.C. The Bishops encouraged participation of the faithful in the Marriage March, writing, “Just two days before the beginning of the Fortnight for Freedom, this year’s March for Marriage will provide an ideal occasion for participants to celebrate and give public witness to the unique meaning of marriage as the union of one man and one woman at a time when the religious liberties and conscience rights of those who promote and defend marriage are increasingly threatened.”
The Diocese of Arlington will host “What’s at Stake?”, a special program outlining current threats to religious liberty and concluding with a Holy Hour, on Saturday, June 28, at St. Joseph’s Church in Herndon. The program will feature Dr. John Garvey, president of The Catholic University of America. A panel discussion will follow with Garvey, Jeanne Monahan, president of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund, and Bishop Paul Loverde.
“People who value their Catholic faith will understand that there is an organic connection between what we believe and how we practice our faith in service well beyond the borders of the church,” said Archbishop of Baltimore William Lori, chair of the U.S. Bishops’ ad hoc committee on religious liberty. “We want to be able to practice it unabashedly, whether in church or in the workplace or as part of church ministry. We don’t think we should have to compromise our beliefs in order to observe.”