the Rio Grande Catholic Article
Catholics urged to resist unjust laws
Bishops call for ‘fortnight for freedom’ observance
Catholic News Service /
5/2/2012 4:16:32 PM
WASHINGTON — American Catholics must resist unjust laws “as a duty of citizenship and an obligation of faith,” a committee of the U.S. bishops said in a new statement on religious liberty.
Titled “Our First, Most Cherished Liberty,?” the 12-page statement by the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty also calls for “a fortnight for freedom" from June 21, the vigil of the feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More, to July 4, U.S. Independence Day. “This special period of prayer, study, catechesis and public action would emphasize both our Christian and American heritage of liberty,” the committee said. “Dioceses and parishes around the country could choose a date in that period for special events that would constitute a great national campaign of teaching and witness for religious liberty.”
Made public April 12, the document was approved by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops?’ Administrative Committee during its March meeting for publication as a committee statement.
The ad hoc committee opened its statement with several “concrete examples" of recent threats to religious liberty, saying that “this is not a theological or legal dispute without real-world consequences. "
Cited first was the Department of Health and Human Services’ mandate that most health plans must include contraception, sterilization and some abortion-inducing drugs free of charge, even if the employer is morally opposed to such services.
“In an unprecedented way, the federal government will both force religious institutions to facilitate and fund a product contrary to their own moral teaching and purport to define which religious institutions are ‘religious enough?’ to merit protection of their religious liberty,” the statement said. “These features of the ?‘preventive services?’ mandate amount to an unjust law.?”
Among other examples of “religious liberty under attack" the bishops named:
— Immigration laws in Alabama and other states that “forbid what the government deems ‘harboring’ of undocumented immigrants — and what the church deems Christian charity and pastoral care to those immigrants.”
— An attempt by the Connecticut Legislature in 2009 to restructure Catholic parishes.
— Discrimination against Christian students on college campuses.
— Government actions in Boston, San Francisco, the District of Columbia and the state of Illinois that have ?“driven local Catholic Charities out of the business of providing adoption or foster care services" because the agencies would not place children with same-sex or unmarried heterosexual couples.
— A New York City rule that bars small church congregations from renting public schools on weekends for worship services, while allowing such rentals by nonreligious groups.
— Changes in federal contracts for human trafficking grants that require Catholic agencies “to refer for contraceptive and abortion services in violation of Catholic teaching.”
The statement quotes the Founding Fathers and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to bolster its arguments. Rev. King, writing from jail in Birmingham, Ala., in 1963, described an unjust law as one “that is out of harmony with the moral law,” and said he agreed with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.”
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