My Dear Parishioners,
Happy Father’s Day! Today we honor and thank our dads. Too often we take them for granted. Your Father’s Day envelopes with your intentions written on them will stay on the reredos (back altar) for the rest of the month of June. It is appropriate that they are there at the base of the statue of St. Joseph, the patron of all fathers.
Once again we are celebrating the Fortnight for Freedom. I am including some important information provided by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. It is a call to fourteen days of prayer, education, and action for religious freedom in the United States and abroad. The theme of this year’s Fortnight is Freedom for Mission. The Fortnight for Freedom will again take place from June 21 to July 4. This two‐week period is a time when our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face of persecution by political power, including St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher, St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome.
In past years, people have participated in the Fortnight in diverse ways, including interfaith prayer services, special Masses and holy hours, and public events where speakers have highlighted the various threats to religious liberty, including at home and abroad. This year, we encourage Christians to use these two weeks to reflect on the importance of religious freedom so that the Church might have space to carry out her mission of service and mercy. We also invite Christians to pray for our brothers and sisters who face intense persecution in other parts of the world.
Although Americans generally do not face the kind of violent persecution endured by many people of faith around the world, Pope Francis has recently spoken of a “polite persecution” that many people face, as “when someone is persecuted not for confessing Christ’s name, but for wanting to demonstrate the values of the Son of God.” Religious freedom continues to be threatened in the U.S.:
- HHS mandate for sterilization, contraception, and abortion-inducing drugs. The mandate of the Department of Health and Human Services forces religious institutions to facilitate or fund a product contrary to their own moral teaching. Further, the federal government tries to define which religious institutions are “religious enough” to merit protection of their religious liberty.
- Catholic foster care and adoption services. Boston, San Francisco, the District of Columbia, and the State of Illinois forced local Catholic Charities out of adoption or foster care services—by revoking their licenses, ending government contracts, or both—because they refused to place children with same-sex couples or unmarried opposite-sex couples who cohabit.
- Immigration laws and policies. Several states have passed laws that forbid what they call “harboring” undocumented immigrants—and what the Church deems Christian charity and pastoral care to immigrants.
- Discrimination against small church congregations. New York City adopted a policy that barred the Bronx Household of Faith and other churches from renting public schools on weekends for worship services, even though non-religious groups could rent the same schools for other uses.
- Discrimination against Catholic humanitarian services. After years of excellent performance by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services (MRS) in administering contract services for victims of human trafficking, the federal government changed its grant specifications to require MRS to provide or refer for contraceptive and abortion services in violation of Catholic teaching.
- Christian students on campus. In its over-100- year history, the University of California Hastings College of Law has denied student organization status to only one group, the Christian Legal Society, because it required its leaders to be Christian and to abstain from sexual activity outside of marriage.
Through prayer, education, and public action during the “Fortnight for Freedom: Freedom for Mission”, we will promote the importance of preserving the essential right of religious freedom, for now and the future, for Catholics and for those of all faiths.
May God Bless You!