Shortly after Easter, the bishops of the United States published a wonderful document called Our First, Most Cherished Liberty (see www.usccb.org). This document summons the Church in the United States to vigorously defend religious freedom as outlined in the First Amendment.
Here are some quotes:
Regarding the HHS Mandate, Bishop Lori of Baltimore said, “This is not a matter of whether contraception may be prohibited by the government. This is not even a matter of whether contraception may be supported by the government. Instead, it is a matter of whether religious people and institutions may be forced by the government to provide coverage for contraception or sterilization, even if that violates their religious beliefs.
Regarding the fact that Religious Liberty is More than Freedom of Worship: What is at stake here is whether…the state alone will determine who gets to contribute to the common good and how they get to do it. The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America stated, “Most troubling, is the Administration’s underlying rationale for its decision, which appears to be a view that if a religious entity is not insular, but engaged with broader society, it loses its “religious” character and liberties.
Regarding our response to current threats to our liberty, retired Cardinal Roger Mahoney said, “I cannot imagine a more direct and frontal attack on freedom of conscience than this ruling today (the HHS Mandate). This decision must be fought against with all the energies the Catholic community can muster.”
Here’s the prayer for religious liberty included in the document.
Almighty God, Father of all nations, For freedom you have set us free in Christ Jesus (Gal 5:1). We praise and bless you for the gift of religious liberty, the foundation of human rights, justice, and the common good. Grant to our leaders the wisdom to protect and promote our liberties; By your grace may we have the courage to defend them, for ourselves and for all those who live in this blessed land. We ask this through the intercession of Mary Immaculate, our patroness, and in the name of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, with whom you live and reign, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. Bob Franco