Religious freedom remains one of our country’s most precious possessions. It gives us the freedom to serve others in God’s love in ministries like education, adoption and foster care, health care and migration and refugee services. That is why, as Pope Francis puts it, “all are called to be vigilant, precisely as good citizens, to preserve and defend that freedom from everything that would threaten or compromise it.”
I encourage Catholics in our diocese to join those across the United States to pray and act in support of religious liberty at home and abroad during Serving Others in God’s Love: Religious Freedom Week 2018, which begins on June 22, the feast of Sts. Thomas More and John Fisher, and ends on June 29, the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul. Sts. Thomas More and John Fisher stood up for the sanctity of marriage and freedom during a time of opposition led by England’s King Henry VIII. These saints show us what faithful service looks like when political leadership desires to influence, set a social tone and request for people to follow.
Religious Freedom Week provides our Catholic community the opportunity to center ourselves in prayer and reflect on how we may always be faith-filled servants when facing the challenges found in today’s society. Reflecting upon Religious Freedom Week helps us to increase our understanding of how to serve our neighbors without having to ignore our faith.
In emphasizing the need to raise up the moral dimensions of the issues facing us as a country, I add my voice to that of Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, the chairman of the USCCB Religious Freedom Committee, who said, “We encourage people of faith to reflect on the importance of religious freedom so that we might have the space to carry out our mission of service and mercy.” I also invite all people of good will to join me in prayer for our brothers and sisters who face serious persecution across the globe.
Daily reflections, resources and other important information on the celebration of Religious Freedom Week can be found on the diocesan website.