The news has been covering the continuing controversy over the issue of religious liberty as it pertains to the new rules issued by the Federal Department of Health & Human Services requiring insurance to cover contraceptives. Our bishops have been attempting to dialogue with our government on this issue. It should be made clear that our bishops are not lobbying to make contraception illegal. They simply ask that religious organizations (with a much broader definition of religious organization than set by the government) not be mandated to provide coverage for anything that violates the religious beliefs of the organization.
This is certainly an important issue but there are other areas where religious liberty is being threatened. With this in mind, the United States Bishops have issued a new document entitled Our First, Most Cherished Liberty: A Statement on Religious Liberty on April 12, 2012. It is only about thirteen pages. I encourage you to read it and think about what religious liberty means today.
On page 11 of the document, they call for a special time of prayer and focus from the evening of June 21st to July 4th to focus on religious liberty. July 4th is, of course, the founding of our country with the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration recognizes the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It also sees these rights as coming from God.
June 22nd is the Feast of St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher who were martyred because they followed their faith over their country. During this time period we will also celebrate a feast of John the Baptist on June 24th who was beheaded because he held to his faith. On June 30th, we will celebrate the first Roman Martyrs. All these people died standing up for their faith. Do we have the courage to stand up for our faith?
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