Posts Tagged ‘Religious Liberty’

Religious Liberty; Rooted In Dignity Of The Human Person

As our Fortnight For Freedom progresses this summer, today seems an appropriate moment to reflect upon the innate freedom of every human person to give expression to their relationship with God. 

Today the Church celebrates the birth of St. John the Baptist.  We read in Sacred Scripture that this birth was announced to Zechariah by an angel of the Lord. The angel even goes so far as to describe the life mission of John.  (Luke 1: 525)

The Sacred Scriptures give plenty of other evidence that we are all created by God, from the foundation of the world. (Ephesians 1:4)  Most memorable is the annunciation of the birth of Jesus to Mary (Luke 1: 26-38) as well as Samson (Judges 13,) and Isaac (Genesis 15:2-6; 18:9-15; 21: 1-8.)

Other passages speak of the work of God forming each of us in the womb.  “You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb.  I praise you, so wonderfully you made me; wonderful are your works!”  (Psalm 139: 13-14)  Also, the Prophet Isaiah: “The Lord called me from birth, from my mother’s womb he gave me my name.”  (Is 49:1)

These Scripture passages teach us that each human person is intimately known by God, who calls us into being.  This fundamental understanding of the origins of every human person speaks to the importance of religious freedom.  This is not just a freedom bestowed upon us by others. 

Religious freedom is a part of our DNA.  We are created by God, for relationship with God and the entire human journey is destined to return to God.  The dignity of every human person is rooted in this Divine Origin of all human life. 

This relationship with God is carried on in the intimate realm of human conscience, and is given visible expression in many ways, not the least of which is worship.  But worship is not the limitation of religious freedom.  One’s relationship with God gives expression to love and service of others.  It is guided by moral light that dictates “Do this. Do not do that.”

The Second Vatican Council in its document on Religious Liberty states:

“…the right to religious freedom is based on the very dignity of the human person as known through the revealed word of God and by reason itself.  This right of the human person to religious freedom must be given such recognition in the constitutional order of society as will make it a civil right.”  (Declaration of Religious Liberty, #2)

St. John the Baptist - Artist, Titian

St. John the Baptist was a voice preparing the people of Israel for its Savior.  Jesus Christ is the Word spoken by God for all eternity.  Still today, freedom is fundamental to exercise our voice in favor of the instructive Word. 

St. John the Baptist did not limit his voice to a temple.  Rather, he spoke wherever and whenever and whatever the Spirit prompted.  This is true religious freedom, in search of and at the service of Truth.  The Truth of our faith, Jesus Christ, desires only the good for all people.  His desire is the desire of the Father, that all come to sanctification.  (1 Thessalonians 4:3)

 Let us continue our prayer for a proper respect for religious liberty, and its due protection from unwarranted intrusion by any individual or institution.  Let us pray that each person will have a well formed conscience and the freedom to live freely according to its guidance toward the Truth and the common good.

+pde

 

 

Fortnight For Freedom Mass & Homily

On this Vigil for the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, the faithful gathered for our Mass to mark the celebration of the Fortnight For Freedom.  Below is the Homily.

Thank you for your presence here today to celebrate this Eucharist.  Thank you for your presence with us to pray for one of our most basic human freedoms, the freedom of religion.

As many of you know, our US Bishops have called us in these days to a time of intense prayer for the protection of religious liberty, otherwise known as a the Fortnight For Freedom.  During this two week period, the Church celebrates numerous feasts, such as those of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas Moore, who were beheaded in 1535 by King Henry VIII for their opposition to his practice and teaching on marriage.  We also just celebrated a feast of St. John the Baptist, who was also beheaded by his king for being outspoken regarding King Herod’s practice of marriage that disregarded God’s law.  On July 4th, which will conclude our Fortnight for Freedom, our nation will celebrate the anniversary of our Independence from what our forefathers saw as an overly intrusive government.

Today the Church celebrates the Vigil Mass for the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles.  Sts. Peter and Paul both gave their lives as a confession of faith in Jesus Christ.  They shed their blood because they would not denounce Christ nor stop preaching in His name.  They certainly would not have renounced Christ in order to profess the pagan beliefs of the Roman Caesars.  They shed their blood because they knew that Christ was not only their greatest treasure, but the greatest treasure of all people for all times. 

The feast of these two great Apostles reminds me of a quote from St. Bonaventure who said: “If I have everything without Christ, I have nothing.  If I have nothing but Christ, I have everything.”

 Our readings today remind us of the benefits of faith as portrayed in the power of St. Peter to heal a man crippled from birth.  St. Peter’s words and actions are a clear teaching that faith is one of our greatest treasures: “I have neither silver nor gold, but what I do have I give you: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean, rise and walk.”  (Acts 3:1-10) 

This account from today’s celebration not only instructs us on the role of religion in the life of the human person, but it also shows the connection between belief in God and the good works that follow.  Our celebration today shows that religion, faith in God, faith in Jesus Christ is a threat to no one, but rather is a force for good.  Society has nothing to fear from religion, and only good to gain.  Perhaps this was only one of several reasons our forefathers saw the need to enshrine this fundamental human freedom of religion in the First Amendment of our Constitution.

Jesus Himself in the post-resurrection account offered in today’s Liturgy from John’s Gospel, makes the same connection between love of God and good works.  (John 21:15-19)  “Simon, son of John, do you love me?  …  Feed my lambs.  Tend my sheep.  Feed my sheep.”

Here, we see the foundational importance to first love God.  This is the fundamental question before each of us:  “Do we love God?”  “Do we love Jesus Christ?”  In a recent address in Atlanta to the body of U.S. Bishops, Mr. John Garvey, President of The Catholic University of America made the following observation:

Our society won’t care about religious freedom if it doesn’t care about God.  That’s where reform is needed.  We won’t have – and we probably won’t need – religious exemptions for nurses, doctors, teachers, social workers if no one is practicing their religion.  The best way to protect religious freedom might be to remind people that they should love God. 

So, my dear friends, we are here this evening to express our love for God, and to pray for the religious freedom to express this love through the many ministries our Catholic Church provides to the poor and needy, regardless of their beliefs.  We are here this evening to pray for the religious freedom to carry out our good works without government mandates that we violate our conscience and moral teachings in order to do so. 

Sadly, toady we see internationally growing concerns regarding violations against humanity when the basic human freedom of religion in disregarded.  This international trend is now finding its ways to our shores, and we see growing concerns in the ways in which the federal, state and local governments are demonstrating a restrictive view of religion and a lack of respect for the role of religion in the broader society.  Perhaps the most notorious demonstration of the federal government’s willingness to restrict the free practice of religion is the recent HHS Mandate.

I know some feel that the US Bishops are not truly concerned about religious liberty, but are simply using this issue as a political football to discourage the re-election of a certain political personality.  I want to assure you, our concern is far greater than any one election, and is definitely about the very basic principle of religious liberty, and what we see as serious threats to this fundamental freedom.    I invite all of you to join us in our prayers for the protection of the freedom to practice our religion.

There is a growing trend in the culture today that wishes to define religious liberty solely as the freedom to worship.  This is neither the language nor the intent of the First Amendment of the Constitution.  The language in the recent HHS Mandate wishes to define religion in such a narrow manner that very few would qualify as a religious organization.  This religious exemption is a clear over-reach of the government, in that it seeks to define membership as well as the ministry of a religious organization. 

Namely, to qualify as a religious organization, we would only be allowed to hire people who share our faith, and we would only be allowed to serve people who share our faith.  It also says that the primary purpose of the organization should be to teach the faith.  In other words, we would have to dismiss the mandate of Jesus Christ to serve the poor, heal the sick, baptize all nations, cloth the naked, visit those imprisoned, comfort those who mourn and enlighten those who are in the dark regarding the Truth of His Gospel.

And these concerns do not even begin to get into the other area of the Mandate which would force us and many other organizations and individuals to violate our conscience and teachings regarding contraception, sterilizations and abortion-inducing drugs.

So, this threat to religious liberty is very real, and if we do not begin to raise our voice of opposition now, there is no telling where this invasion of government into the internal life of the Church will end.

Let our celebration this evening of the faith and works of these great Apostles, Peter and Paul, renew our faith.  May the intercessions of Sts. Peter and Paul make us strong in living our faith in the face of a growing secularism that would seek to diminish the freedom of religion.  May the witness of Sts. Peter and Paul renew our hope in this time, and strengthen our confidence and trust that God is still at work in the world today. 

 Saints Peter and Paul, Pray for us!

St. John the Baptist and Fortnight For Freedom

Fortnight For Freedom Homily: Solemnity of Nativity of St. John the Baptist:

Thank you for the invitation to be here with you today to celebrate this Eucharist.  More than anything I wish to thank all of you for continuing the faith in this part of our state.  Faith is a tremendous gift, and it is a good thing to gather today to celebrate this gift and nourish it through the Eucharist and the Church.  

Today the Church exercises a rare practice of displacing the regular Sunday celebration with the Solemnity of the Nativity of John the Baptist.  John is celebrated for many things regarding his life, ministry and sanctity, and today, I wish to focus on a few that seem applicable to our times and needs, particularly the need for us to defend our religious liberty. 

As many of you know, our US Bishops in these days have called all people of faith to a time of intense prayer for the protection of religious liberty, otherwise known as a Fortnight For Freedom.  During these two weeks, the church celebrates numerous feasts, such as those of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas Moore, who were beheaded in 1535 by King Henry VIII for their opposition to his practice and teaching on marriage.

Today, we celebrate one of several feasts of St. John the Baptist, who was also beheaded by his king for being outspoken regarding King Herod’s practice of marriage that disregarded God’s law.

On July 4th, which will conclude our Fortnight for Freedom, our nation will celebrate the anniversary of our Independence from what our forefathers saw as an overly intrusive government.

First, let me summarize just a few of the indicators we see today of present ways in which federal, state and local governments are demonstrating a new, and alarming, restrictive view of religion.

HHS mandate for contraception, sterilization, and abortion inducing drugs.  The mandate of the Department of Health and Human Services forces religious institutions to facilitate and fund a product contrary to their own moral teaching. Further, the federal government tries to define which religious institutions are “religious enough” to merit protection of their religious liberty.

Catholic foster care and adoption services. Boston, San Francisco, the District of Columbia, and the State of Illinois have driven local Catholic Charities out of the business of providing adoption or foster care services— by revoking their licenses, by ending their government contracts, or both—because those Charities refused to place children with same-sex couples or unmarried opposite-sex couples who cohabit.

State immigration laws. Several states have recently passed laws that forbid what they deem as “harboring” of undocumented immigrants—and what the Church deems Christian charity and pastoral care to these immigrants.

Discrimination against Catholic humanitarian services. After years of excellent performance by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services (MRS) in administering contract services for victims of human trafficking, the federal government changed its contract specifications to require MRS to provide or refer for contraceptive and abortion  services in violation of Catholic teaching.

 I know some feel that the US Bishops are not truly concerned about religious liberty, but are simply using this issue as a political football to discourage the re-election of a certain political personality.  I want to assure you, our concern is far greater than any one election, and is definitely about the very basic principle of religious liberty, and what we see as serious threats to this fundamental freedom.  Thus, I offer the above examples for your own study and prayer.  I invite all of you to join us in our prayers for the protection of the freedom to practice our religion.

There is a growing trend in the culture today that wishes to define religious liberty solely as the freedom to worship.  This is neither the language nor the intent of the First Amendment of the Constitution.  The language in the recent HHS Mandate wishes to define religion in such a narrow manner that very few would qualify as a religious organization.  This religious exemption is a clear over-reach of the government, in that it seeks to define membership as well as the ministry of a religious organization. 

Namely, to qualify as a religious organization, we would only be allowed to hire people who share our faith, and we would only be allowed to serve people who share our faith.  It also says that the primary purpose of the organization should be to teach the faith.  In other words, we would have to dismiss the mandate of Jesus Christ to serve the poor, heal the sick, baptize all nations, cloth the naked, visit those imprisoned, comfort those who mourn and enlighten those who are in the dark regarding the Truth of His Gospel.

And these concerns do not even begin to get into the other area of the Mandate which would force us and many other organizations and individuals to violate our conscience and teachings regarding contraception, sterilizations and abortion-inducing drugs.

So, this threat to religious liberty is very real, and if we do not begin to raise our voice of opposition now, there is no telling where this invasion of government into the internal life of the Church will end.  And that brings us back to St. John the Baptist.

St. John the Baptist was a ‘voice in the desert’ preparing the way for the world’s Savior, Jesus Christ.  Even within the womb, St. John leapt with joy at the presence of the Savior as the pre-natal Jesus arrives with Mary’s visit to Elizabeth.  St. John is a tremendous model for us to ‘find our voice’ today in the face of serious threats to religious freedom.

St. John in his life pointed the way to Christ.  The Father revealed the true identity of Jesus to John during Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan.  John told his followers that one greater than he was coming, who would baptize with water and the spirit for the forgiveness of sins.  John pointed to Christ as the Lamb of God telling all who would listen: “Follow him.”  St. John also recognized his insignificance in the presence of Jesus by saying: “He must increase, and I must decrease.” 

This feast today reminds us that we are to point others to Christ.  We are to be followers of Christ.  We are to be expanding God’s Kingdom, in a world that would restrict any mention of God.  We, too, are insignificant in the face of Christ.  Truly, Christ must increase.  Today, there are many who would decrease the public space for God, for the Sacred, and for Jesus Christ.  Will we work on behalf of Jesus?  Will the work and ministry of this parish continue to expand God’s Kingdom, even in the face of a growing and aggressive secularism?

St. John the Baptist had great fortitude.  He was fearless in preaching the truth about the king, and from him we have much to learn about fortitude in the defense of our faith, and in the defense of our freedoms.  St. John ultimately was imprisoned and martyred for preaching the truth.  May today’s voices calling for a limited role of religion not silence our own voice.  May our voices, as St. John’s give voice to the Eternal WORD of God, who was incarnate, who suffered and died for our ultimate freedom, the freedom from sin and death; the freedom to live as sons and daughters of God.  May Jesus Christ be praised for ever and ever, and may our freedom to worship and proclaim him be forever protected.

Fortnight For Freedom

fortnight-for-freedom-montageTomorrow begins a two week period of prayer for respect for Religious Liberty.  From June 21 to July 4, the US Bishops are asking all people of faith to make this a time of prayer, study and catechesis.  This is to be a time to both learn about the growing threats to religious liberty in our own country, as well as internationally, and to pray that this basic, fundamental freedom be protected.

Perhaps the best known threat to our religious liberty is the now famous HHS Mandate.  There are two fundamental issues at work here.  First, the issue that truly makes this an issue of religious liberty is that a branch of the federal government is taking the unprecedented step of defining religion.  In this mandate, which is now ‘law,’ the so-called religious exemption outlines four criteria that must be met if an organization is to be ‘religious’ and thus exempt from the mandate.

To meet this exemption, an organization must 1) exist primarily for the inculcation (teaching or passing on) of the tenents of their faith; 2) the organization must employ only members of its own faith; 3) the organization must serve only people of its faith; and 4) the organization must meet certain tax code exemptions. 

In other words, the government is now in a position of telling religious organizations who they can serve, and who they can employ.  Clearly, the First Amendment which protects Religious Liberty is  meant to keep the federal government from interfering in the internal life of the church.  We do not ask to see someone’s baptismal certificate before we decide to serve them.  The ministry of the Church is based on the mandate of Jesus Christ, and no government can supersede that authority.

The second serious issue of the HHS Mandate is one of conscience.  The Mandate is requiring religious organizations to violate our moral teaching and practice by providing our employees with birth control, sterilization procedures, and abortion-inducing drugs. 

There are other examples from recent history that give serious concern regarding efforts to restrict our Religious Liberty as protected in the First Amendment.  So, we encourage all our parishes and parishioners to take time in these coming weeks to pray for religious freedom.  Take time to study the issues of concern. 

As a part of our diocesan celebration of the Fortnight of Freedom, I will celebrate Mass at the Cathedral at 5:30pm on June 28, the Vigil of the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul.  I hope you will join us for this Mass if you are in the Cheyenne area. 

Our celebration will conclude on the 4th of July with the ringing of church bells at noon.  May God bless our efforts in these coming weeks, and may God bless America!

Prayer for the Protection of Religious Liberty

O God our Creator,

Religious-liberty-cards-montage

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.

Amen.

+pde

Letter To Priests, Deacons, Religious and Parishioners Regarding HHS Mandate

 

 

Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ:

 As you are most undoubtedly aware, on January 20, 2012, the Department of Health and Human Services announced its decision not to expand the unacceptably narrow “religious employer” exemption to its mandate that virtually all health insurance plans must include, as so-called “preventive services” sterilizations, abortifacients, and contraception.  Since that time, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and I began immediately preparing to meet this challenge.

 The Bishops’ Conference committee on Religious Liberty is actively engaged in planning a nation-wide response on a number of levels.  I simply want you to know that the bishops are fully engaged in this process, and a significant, sustainable, and long-term strategy is our goal.

You are invited to visit the USCCB website for continually updated information regarding our efforts to defend freedoms of conscience and religious liberty, and to better inform yourself as to what you can do as individuals.  There is already information on this website to assist you in writing your representatives to express your deep concern for the protections of freedom of conscience and religious liberty.

 I want to be very clear.  We as church, and all believers, share a deep concern for women’s health.  However, we take serious issue with any effort to portray pregnancy as a disease.  Regardless of the present contraceptive practices of women and couples, the Church will always teach the integrity of the whole moral law of marriage and of human sexuality, for to do so is to support the true growth of human civilization. (See Humanae Vitae 18)  God in His Providence has provided for the natural means of conceiving children, and the natural and nurturing place for their development is in the mother’s womb.  This “sacred sanctuary” is and should be the first priority of healthcare, if healthcare is truly about nurturing and sustaining human life.

 Regarding the Obama administration’s intention to mandate free healthcare coverage of contraceptives, abortifacients and sterilization procedures, let us be very clear.  This mandate seeks not only to reflect some women’s reproductive behaviors, but to change all women’s behaviors.  Should this mandate stand, we can easily see into the future how this or any future administration will then feel quite emboldened to take the next step of mandatory coverage for abortions, infanticide, and so called ‘assisted suicide’.  Indeed, this mandate will already cover the cost of certain FDA approved medications that are known to cause the early destruction of a human embryo, thus leading to the loss of life in the womb.

 As serious as the above issue of life is, this mandate raises another grave concern, with far-reaching consequences, and that is Religious Liberty.  Even though most churches and houses of worship are exempt from this mandate, other religious institutions, through which Catholics and other Christians carry out our Gospel Mission, are not.  Faith-based institutions such as schools, hospitals, universities and charitable institutions will be required to follow this new mandate, or pay stiff financial penalties.  In addition, individual employers who wish to act on their faith and provide their employees health insurance but do not want to provide services contrary to their religious beliefs are forced to either not provide health insurance and face a fine or act contrary to their faith.  In short, the government is requiring that people of faith purchase something that violates their moral beliefs. 

 If we allow this mandate to go unchallenged, if we allow it to stand, we are surrendering our constitutionally protected right under the First Amendment, to freely exercise our religious faith in American society.  This has serious consequences for our dioceses, parishes and other religious institutions and the way we are presently able to freely carry out our faith-based ministries.  We believe firmly that our moral presence in the public square and our charitable service to those in need is not only protected under the First Amendment, but is also good for our culture and society.  Once a country or government loses its moral foundation, there will be an inevitable destruction to “decent society” and the disintegration of culture and democracy.

 This mandate is a “not-so-subtle” revelation of this administration’s misinterpretation of Religious Liberty as a mere “freedom of worship”.  In other words, this mandate is telling people of faith: “Keep your faith at home or in your church, synagogue, mosque or temple and out of the market place, or we will enact regulations that will prevent you from practicing your faith in public.”  This is a wake-up call to all Catholics and all people of faith in American society.  This is one more step in the direction of declaring “no-god” the official religion of the State, and every person who holds dear their faith in God had better stand up and take notice.

 I urge you to contact President Obama, Senators Barrasso and Enzi and Representative Lummis and state your objections to this new requirement, and ask for the repeal of this mandate or at least for a religious exemption that would allow people of faith not to have to provide contraceptive, abortifacients and sterilization coverage. 

 I invite all of you please stay abreast of the developments around this HHS Mandate.  I also strongly encourage fasting and prayer as a proper response to this challenge.  Last but not least, our response should always be one of faith, hope and respect.  Please know how grateful I am for your faith.  With assurance of prayers for you and your families and loved ones, I remain,

 In The Heart of Christ,

 

 Most Reverend Paul D. Etienne

Bishop of Cheyenne

US Department of Health & Human Services on Wrong Side of Constitution

On August 1, 2011, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued an “internal final rule” to require virtually all private health plans to include coverage for all FDA-approved prescription contraceptives, and female sterilization procedures. Among these prescription contraceptives are drugs which are known to induce abortion.  All health plans will be required to include these services without co-pays or other cost sharing – even if the insurer, the employer or the woman herself objects to such coverage.  Since August, numerous protests to this rule have been formally filed with HHS, seeking a broader definition of the religious exemption, in keeping with the long-standing practice of law and understanding of religious freedom.  Most of these protests did not lead to a change in the rule.  On January 20, 2012, HHS decided not to make any significant change in its rule.

 The religious exemption under this new mandate is very narrowly defined.  It will only exempt religious organizations who employ members of their own faith, or those which only minister to members of their own faith.  We as Catholics do not discriminate on the basis of creed, those to whom we offer services.  Since our Catholic institutions do not fall into this narrowly defined exemption, we will now, by law, be required to violate our conscience in both paying for and providing for medications and procedures that we find morally objectionable.

 We as Catholics do not see pregnancy as a disease, and we certainly see no need to provide for means to end such life through mandated practices in the health care plans we offer our employees.  We see life as a gift from God, and are committed to protecting it from all threats, in all stages of life, born or unborn.  Health care is about sustaining life, not ending life.

 Clearly, we are not mandated to offer health care plans to our employees, but it is something we feel should be standard operating procedure.  “Nonprofit employers, who based on religious beliefs, [who] do not provide contraceptive coverage in their insurance plan, will be provided an additional year, until August 1, 2013, to comply with the new law.”  This sounds understanding, but with no change in the basic protection of religious liberty, this is nothing more than an invitation for us as Church to figure out how we are to violate our conscience, or pay significant financial fees.

 With this ruling, an agency of the US Government is disregarding our constitutional right to protection of conscience on the basis of religious freedom.  Never before in our history as a nation has the government required citizens to purchase a product that violates their conscience.  It is my deepest hope that the US Bishops will challenge this new HHS mandate to the highest court, and demand a proper respect for our religious freedom, which is protected in the US Constitution.

 Finally, I encourage all our Catholics to come to a profound understanding of this situation.  When an Administration, after seeking feedback on such a controversial ruling, still decides to act in a manner that violates our freedom of religion, it is quite telling…

 +PDE

Freedom of Religion

For some time now, the Bishops of this country have had growing concerns of potential restrictions on our First Amendments rights to express our religion freely.  Just this past week, two Archbishops wrote on this topic of growing concern and importance; Archbishop Dolan of New York, and Archbishop Gomez of Los Angeles.  Also this week, Bishop Lori of Bridgeport, the newly appointed Chair of the newly established Bishop’s Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty, addressed a panel before Congress on this very topic, and expressed our concerns.

I strongly encourage our Catholic family to “tune in” to this very important topic.  The posed restrictions on our ability as a Catholic Institution to continue to carry out our ministries in the public arena are real, and have already led to closing some of our ministries.  For example, the Federal Government just this past few days refused a grant for the US Bishops to continue their work of placing women and children who are victims of human trafficing.  No reason was given for this refusal, but we know that more and more “pressure” is applied by the Federal Government on our Catholic institutions to provide for abortion and sterilization procedures for women. 

One other “phrase” that is growing in popularity by Federal Government workers is “Freedom of Worship”, which is quite different from “Religious Liberty”.  It is good that the government not endorse one religion, or espouse one religion for all.  It is great that we have the freedom to worship in whatever fashion we choose.  However, “worship” and practicing our faith and applying our moral beliefs in our institutions of healthcare and education are very different things.  Both need to be honored and protected.

 Please continue to keep this important topic in your prayers.  Please continue to be aware of this on-going dialogue, and its consequences. 

+pde

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