“I consider the government of the United States as interdicted by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline or exercises.”
The third annual Fortnight for Freedom: Freedom to Serve will take place from June 21 to July 4, a time when our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face of persecution by political power—St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher, St. John the Baptist, Sts. Peter and Paul and the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome. The fortnight also marks the death of two of our founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, both of whom died on July 4, 1826.
The theme of this year’s Fortnight will focus on the freedom to serve the poor and vulnerable in accord with human dignity, the church’s teaching and the calls from Pope Francis.
Religious liberty continues to be of great concern to the church, not only in the United States but also throughout the world. Recent events in Iraq and Syria are only the latest attacks on the ability of people to freely practice their religious beliefs. Attacks on religious freedom are widespread throughout the Middle East and the continent of Africa. Believers face similar challenges in China and other parts of the world.
Here in the United States we are waiting on a Supreme Court decision on the freedom of corporations to make decisions on their owners’ deeply held religious beliefs. These cases, and others filed by Catholic dioceses throughout the country, are in response to attempts by the Federal government to impose on people of faith unacceptable beliefs regarding issues of life. This is only one example of the many displays of religious intolerance throughout the country.
This year, I am encouraging parishes throughout the Diocese of Corpus Christi to commemorate the Fortnight for Freedom with local events that will inform and engage the faithful on this very important concern. I pray to the Blessed Mother that we all will be faithful to church teaching and that our government will remain faithful to religious protections guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution.