God Bless America! The Fortnight for Freedom
July 4, 2012
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights – that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The U.S. Bishops called for a special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action from June 21, until July 4, 2012 on the Christian and American heritage of liberty. As a part of the Fortnight for Freedom, Dominican friars from around the country have responded to this call. One recent example was Bro. Cassian Derbes, OP, who worked this past year as an intern at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), was asked to give a talk in the Diocese of Memphis on the philosophical and theological foundations of freedom according to St. Thomas Aquinas. On Wednesday, June 27, 2012, Bro. Cassian participated in a panel discussion with local leaders including the CEO of Catholic Charities of West Tennessee, a federal judge, a constitutional law professor and advisor to the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations, and the Dean of the School of Arts at Christian Brothers University. The event was hosted by St. Peter’s Church in Memphis, which is staffed by the Dominicans of the Province of Saint Martin de Porres. On this Fourth of July please join us as we continue to pray for the protection of our religious liberty:
O God our Creator,
from your provident hand we have received our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
You have called us as your people and given us the right and the duty to worship you, the only true God, and your Son, Jesus Christ.
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.
In the video below Benedict XVI speaks to American bishops on politics, secularism, and Christian culture. [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a1eR19p4Vz8?rel=0] In a press release posted after the recent Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the USCCB stated that for nearly a century they “have been and continue to be consistent advocates for comprehensive health care reform to ensure access to life-affirming health care for all, especially the poorest and the most vulnerable.” “Although the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops did not participate in these cases and took no position on the specific questions presented to the Court, USCCB’s position on health care reform generally and on ACA particularly is a matter of public record.” The bishops ultimately opposed final passage of the Affordable Care Act for several reasons. ACA allows use of federal funds to pay for elective abortions and for plans that cover such abortions. The USCCB noted that such a move contradicts longstanding federal policy. “The risk we identified in this area has already materialized, particularly in the initial approval by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) of ‘high risk’ insurance pools that would have covered abortion,” the USCCB stated. The U.S. bishops also found fault with the ACA’s lack of conscience protection, both within and beyond the abortion context. The Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate within the ACA would force religious institutions and other employers to cover sterilization, contraception, and abortifacient drugs. Several rallies have been held nationwide opposing the HHS mandate. The USCCB statement also noted that the Affordable Care Act fails to treat immigrant workers and their families in a fair manner, saying that it “leaves them worse off by not allowing them to purchase health coverage in the new exchanges created under the law, even if they use their own money.” “This undermines the Act’s stated goal of promoting access to basic life-affirming health care for everyone, especially for those most in need,” the statement read. Concluding their statement, the USCCB stated that the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision does not diminish the moral imperative of health care for all. The bishops also stated that it does not eliminate the need to correct the flaws outlined in their statement. “We therefore continue to urge Congress to pass, and the Administration to sign, legislation to fix those flaws,” the U.S. bishops urged.