During his 2015 visit to the United States, Pope Francis said that religious freedom is one of America’s most precious possessions. He also reminded the U.S. bishops that religious freedom means they have the freedom to serve others in God’s love in ministries like education, health care, migration, refugee services, adoption and foster care.
This year, Religious Freedom Week 2020 is being observed June 22-29.
Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, acting chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee for Religious Liberty, is encouraging Catholics to pray and uphold religious liberty at home and abroad during Religious Freedom Week, which began on the feast of Sts. Thomas More and John Fisher. The observance ends on the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul. This year’s theme is “For the Good of All.” The archbishop said that religious freedom is under stress throughout the world. “Even in our Western liberal democracies, discrimination against religion in general and Catholic Christianity, in particular, is growing — albeit in perhaps more sophisticated and less violent ways,” he added.
“Political analysts and human rights advocates do include religion on their agenda. But most emphasize ‘tolerance’ as if religion were only a source of conflict. Or, they speak about religion in terms of ‘individual choices,’ as if religion were merely the concern of an individual’s conviction and were devoid of any social consequences,” Archbishop Wenski said.
“Yet, just as freedom of speech depends not only on one’s right to say what’s on one’s mind but also on the existence of institutions like newspapers, universities, libraries, political parties and other associations that make up what we call ‘civil society,’ so too freedom of religion ‘for the good of all’ must also encompass protecting those institutions that nourish the individual’s free exercise of religion,” he said.
“The right to religious freedom has its foundation in the very dignity of the human person. Religious freedom is the human right that guarantees all other rights — peace and creative living together will only be possible if freedom of religion is fully respected.”
Resources for Religious Freedom Week and other religious liberty resources can be found at usccb.org/ReligiousFreedomWeek and usccb.org/freedom. Social media posts will use the hashtag #ReligiousFreedomWeek.