Religious freedom under attack: A letter from Bishop Jenky
May 30, 2012
Dear Faithful in Christ,
As we approach the celebration of our nation’s Independence, I remind you that religious freedom is one of our most treasured gifts. We proudly celebrate that the First Amendment of our Constitution enshrines our religious freedom.
Religious freedom is not only about our ability to go to Mass or pray at home. It is about contributing to the common good of our nation by doing the good works that our faith calls us to do. Faith must be put into action.
The faith we celebrate at Mass propels us to go out and educate children in our Catholic schools and universities, heal the sick in our hospitals, feed the hungry at food pantries and soup kitchens, and build up the kingdom of God through the myriad good works performed by our Knights of Columbus, St. Vincent de Paul Societies and other charitable organizations. All of these religious works are an exercise of faith and must be carried out according to the tenets of our faith. They are an expression of our religious freedom.
Sadly, we all know that our religious freedom is under direct attack as articulated in the federal government’s Health and Human Services Mandate. Despite its narrow exemption clause, the mandate forces Catholic schools, universities, hospitals, and charitable groups to provide insurance coverage of abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives and sterilization. This is directly contrary to our Catholic mission and violates our religious freedom.
I join with all the Bishops of the United States who have called for a Fortnight for Freedom from June 21 to July 4. The Fortnight for Freedom is a focused period of time for the faithful to grow in understanding of what the Church teaches about religious liberty, and a time of prayer and action dedicated to its protection. I have called upon all pastors of our diocese to offer parishioners opportunities to learn more about the gift of religious freedom and pray for its protection. These efforts will take on many forms across our diocese.
I call upon all of the faithful to promote, protect, and pray for religious freedom. Throughout our efforts during the Fortnight for Freedom we will discover again this gift of freedom from God enshrined in our Constitution.
Calling upon the power of St. Michael the Archangel and with the promise of my prayers, I am
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Daniel R. Jenky, CSC
Bishop of Peoria