As well as other creative lay Catholics. Thus says the latest statement from the US Bishops on religious freedom, which is really long but worth reading. Among its most salient features are
- a 7-item list of recent federal and state government assaults on religious freedom, for example, an Alabama statute that would make it illegal for priests administer the sacraments to illegal aliens (!) and a failed 2009 attempt by the state of Connecticut to interfere with the Church's hiring policies. Placing these violations alongside the HHS mandate might help fence sitters to see a pattern, rather than a tempest in a teapot about contraception.
- A great explanation of "freedom of religion" vs. "freedom of worship", bolstered by an excellent statement from the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations in America.: "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. Many faiths firmly believe in being open to and engaged with broader society and fellow citizens of other faiths. The Administration's ruling makes the price of such an outward approach the violation of an organization's religious principles. This is deeply disappointing."
- Some excellent historical background on the history of the Church in the United States.
- Dots connected between our situation in the United States and the severe, horrific persecution of religious believers in other countries.
- A plea from the bishops (who know they'll fail without our help) to the laity to use their talents and positions in life to fight for the cause of religious freedom. Which leads back to the topic in my subject line:
"Catechesis on religious liberty is not the work of priests alone. The Catholic Church in America is blessed with an immense number of writers, producers, artists, publishers, filmmakers, and bloggers employing all the means of communications—both old and new media—to expound and teach the faith. They too have a critical role in this great struggle for religious liberty. We call upon them to use their skills and talents in defense of our first freedom."
The statement concludes with a plan for a "fortnight for freedom" from June 21st to July 4th. Read all about it and start thinking about what you can do on your blog, in a comment box on a secular blog, in your parish, and with your family.