Yearly Archives: 2012
Remember tomorrow — August 1, 2012.
Remember this day as the day our most cherished liberty evaporated. Religious liberty had a good run. It nearly survived 221 years from when the Constitution’s First Amendment went into effect.
That’s right — you will wake up tomorrow and we will have allowed secular ideologues to strip us of our rights.
August 1st will be remembered as the day our most cherished liberty was thrown in a government dumpster and hauled away. A day when family owned small businesses were forced to abandon their religious beliefs to provide certain products and services for free to comply with the HHS mandate. And if they don’t, they will be taxed and fined at a time when job creators are struggling with the costs and bureaucratic red-tape at every level of government barely allowing them to stay in business.
While the courts have provided a reprieve for one family business in Colorado, the government will never be able to repair the broken conscience of thousands of others until this mandate is removed.
The clock has also started ticking for Houses of Worship and other religious institutions to apply for an exemption or violate their beliefs next year on August 1, 2013. Unfortunately, the requirements are so rigid and narrow most will actually not be exempt, and at any time during the next year the Federal government can rescind the reprieve. In addition, if you are a new religious non-profit formed after February 2012 there is nothing you can do.
Congress has held over a dozen pro-life votes in Congress the past two years. Those are important. However, there has only been one vote to specifically address the religious liberty violations contained in the HHS mandate proposed on Friday, August 5, 2011; announced on Friday, January 20, 2012; and published as final on Wednesday, February 15, 2012. That’s right…Washington has known about the HHS mandate for a year and it has been in place now for nearly six months.
I have heard members of both parties say they respect our religious liberties and acknowledge this is a problem. Then now is the moment for them to hear from us that it is time to finally act.
Congress will leave at the end of this week for the traditional August recess. They will not return until the week of September 10th. Being an election year, they will be spending as much time around their states and districts as possible during this period.
Members of Congress need to hear from us at this critical moment in time.Here is how you can help advance the cause of religious liberty:
- Call your Member of Congress’ District Office — ask if there will be any town hall meetings or public events you can attend.
- Attend the event and encourage them to support the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act.
- If they are already supporting the legislation, thank them immediately and ask them to support it coming to the floor for a vote.
- If they are not supporting the legislation, ask them why immediately.
- If there are no events, ask for a meeting with your Member of Congress and organize a group to join you.
Finally, post what you learn about public events or your interaction with your Member of Congress at this special section of our website. We want to hear from you!
We are encouraging people of faith to visit with their Member of Congress during the August recess and urge them to support the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act to fix the HHS mandate and additional conscience violations contained in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
As you learn of town halls, other events, or are able to obtain a meeting with your representative, please update us in the comment box below.
The Fortnight for Freedom was concluded with Mass celebrated at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. on July 4, 2012. Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia delivered the Homily.
July 4, 2012
ARCHBISHOP CHAPUT’S HOMILY:
NATIONAL CLOSING MASS OF THE FORTNIGHT FOR FREEDOM
Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, DC
Paul Claudel, the French poet and diplomat of the last century, once described the Christian as “a man who knows what he is doing and where he is going in a world [that] no longer [knows] the difference between good and evil, yes and no. He is like a god standing out in a crowd of invalids . . . He alone has liberty in a world of slaves.”
Like most of the great writers of his time, Claudel was a mix of gold and clay, flaws and genius. He had a deep and brilliant Catholic faith, and when he wrote that a man “who no longer believes in God, no longer believes in anything,” he was simply reporting what he saw all around him. He spoke from a lifetime that witnessed two world wars and the rise of atheist ideologies that murdered tens of millions of innocent people using the vocabulary of science. He knew exactly where forgetting God can lead.
We Americans live in a different country, on a different continent, in a different century. And yet, in speaking of liberty, Claudel leads us to the reason we come together in worship this afternoon. (more…)
We launched the Virtual Vigil for Religious Liberty to support the Bishops’ call for a two week period of prayer, education, and action in support of religious liberty, and today it comes to a close. 5,256 people of faith joined with us and now it’s time to move forward with new resolve and purpose.
Each year on the 4th of July, we remember the blessings of liberty we enjoy in America. We are reminded that 236 years ago today, a courageous group of men, with their lives being threatened, gathered in Philadelphia to finalize our Declaration of Independence which begins:
“The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, —That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness…” (more…)
There has been so much attention in the media to the egregious HHS mandate that other attacks on our religious liberty have been overshadowed.
For Day 12 of the Fortnight of Freedom, we wanted to remind you about some of these other assaults on our most cherished freedom.
- The Bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services division is now disqualified from a federal contract to provide services to victims of human trafficking because they will not refer women for abortions.
- Catholic Charities has been forced out of adoption and foster care services in Boston, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and the entire state of Illinois for refusing to place children in same-sex couple households.
- Some sections of recent state immigration laws prohibit priests from providing the Sacraments to an illegal immigrant. Regardless of how one feels about the illegal immigration issues facing our country, our priests should still be able to provide for the spiritual needs of anyone.
- New York City is banning religious groups from renting schools on weekends for services even though non-religious groups are still allowed to rent the same facilities for any other use.
- The Christian Legal Society at the University of California Hastings College of Law was denied student organization status because it required its leaders to support an abstinence pledge. (more…)
Catholic Advocate President Matt Smith was at the Supreme Court this morning when they issued their 5 to 4 ruling on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. He made the following statement in response to the Supreme Court upholding President Obama’s health care overhaul.
“The ‘individual mandate’ was just one problem with the law. Our tax dollars are still being used to subsidize abortion and our Catholic institutions are still being forced to violate our beliefs.
“Congress must act immediately to fix the critical flaws in the health care law and begin to replace them with measured, sensible reforms. At the very least, they should not allow any tax dollars to be used to implement the law while remedies are decided. We encourage them to focus their energy on improving our nation’s health care system in a way that respects all stages of life, protects our consciences, and avoids negatively impacting the economic conditions of Americans. (more…)
Catholics are less than 4% of the population in the state of Alabama but that is not stopping them from rallying all people of faith to stand for religious liberty. Our friend Quin Hillyer writes today at National Review Online about the ecumenical gathering taking place in Mobile, Alabama tomorrow night.
Churches Stand Together
Mobile, Ala., forum shows: Opposition to the HHS mandate is Catholic, and catholic.
For all those keeping watch during the Virtual Vigil for Religious Liberty, we have one small request today: Join us in praying the Prayer for the Protection of Religious Liberty today.
O God our Creator,
Through the power and working of your Holy Spirit,
you call us to live out our faith in the midst of the world,
bringing the light and the saving truth of the Gospel
to every corner of society.
We ask you to bless us
in our vigilance for the gift of religious liberty.
Give us the strength of mind and heart
to readily defend our freedoms when they are threatened;
give us courage in making our voices heard
on behalf of the rights of your Church
and the freedom of conscience of all people of faith.
Grant, we pray, O heavenly Father,
a clear and united voice to all your sons and daughters
gathered in your Church
in this decisive hour in the history of our nation,
so that, with every trial withstood
and every danger overcome—
for the sake of our children, our grandchildren,
and all who come after us—
this great land will always be “one nation, under God,
indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
© 2012 United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Over 2,000 People of Faith have joined virtual march on Washington, D.C. during first two days of ‘Fortnight for Freedom’
We at Catholic Advocate are answering our Catholic Bishops’ call for a “a time of prayer, education, and action in support of religious liberty” during a “Fortnight for Freedom” with the launch of the “Virtual Vigil for Religious Liberty.”
“The bishops have urged us all to consider the ‘Christian and American heritage of liberty’ during this time, and we think participating in our virtual vigil is one great way for people of faith from across the United States to come together,” said Catholic Advocate President Matt Smith.
During the 14-day “Fortnight” period, Catholic Advocate is encouraging a great national campaign of teaching and witness for religious liberty through joining people in prayer, contacting Congress, sharing facts on Facebook, and more. We will also let vigil participants know about other important ways they can participate in the “Fortnight for Freedom” within their own communities.
The “Virtual Vigil for Religious Liberty” is hosted at a special website:
“Our goal is to unite those standing for our liberties in a national way by their attendance at the virtual vigil in Washington, D.C.,” added Smith. “We also encourage participation in the various activities being hosted in dioceses across the country but for those unable to attend an event they can be a part of the fortnight through the vigil.”
Participants are able to join the vigil through Facebook or by entering basic information. They will then choose an avatar, including an option for priests and women religious, to represent them at the vigil. Participants will receive daily updates on activities to join with others during the fortnight. There is also a section entitled “Got 5 Minutes – Do More to Help” where vigil attendees can take further steps to engage in additional prayer, educational, and action activities.
Here is some of the coverage we have received since the launch:
Catholic News Agency
Catholic group launches ‘virtual vigil’ for religious freedom
Fortnight for Freedom Campaign Against HHS Mandate Starts Thursday
Christian Broadcasting Network
Beltway Buzz: Fortnight for Religious Freedom