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USA: Catholic Church to celebrate Religious Freedom Week

(ZENIT News / Washington, 06.14.2023).- The annual observance of Religious Freedom Week takes place June 22–29. It begins with the feast day of Ss. Thomas More and John Fisher, includes the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, and ends with the feast of Ss. Peter and Paul. The theme this year is “Embracing the Divine Gift of Freedom.”

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) offers the faithful daily topics addressing different aspects of religious liberty for prayer, reflection, and action, which may be found at:  www.usccb.org/ReligiousFreedomWeek. The resources this year show the breadth of religious liberty issues of concern to the bishops of the United States. In creating the resources, the USCCB’s Committee for Religious Liberty collaborated with the Conference’s Office of International Justice and Peace to raise awareness about the persecution of the Catholic Church in Nicaragua, and conflicts and religious tensions in Nigeria. These are examples of issues the faithful should be aware of in order to be in solidarity with people throughout the world who suffer for their faith.

Domestically, a major area of concern continues to be freedom for Catholic institutions, such as schools, hospitals, and child welfare service providers, to carry out their missions with integrity. In particular, the bishops are concerned about Catholic healthcare, as the Biden Administration proposed a cascade of changes to federal regulations over the past year that remove conscience protections from healthcare institutions and individuals.

Religious Freedom Week will also highlight issues that are currently taking place primarily at the state level. State governments have passed or proposed laws that forbid “harboring” or transporting undocumented immigrants, when in fact, the “harboring” is defined as providing a safe place to sleep, or the “transporting” is a ride to Mass. Some states are attacking the “priest-penitent privilege,” or seal of confession, which has been protected since 1813 in the court case of People v. Philips and is thought to be the first court case on the right to free exercise of religion in America.

Through prayer, education, and public action during Religious Freedom Week, the faithful can promote the essential right of religious freedom for Catholics and for those of all faiths.

To connect with the USCCB’s Committee for Religious Liberty, text FREEDOM to 84576 and sign up for “First Freedom News,” the Committee for Religious Liberty’s monthly newsletter.