Make a Difference

The Fortnight for Freedom campaign being launched under the aegis of the American bishops on Friday, June 22,  and running through the celebration of Independence Day, is a timely and important summons for every Catholic in our country to “go make a difference.” Ask your neighbor if she or he has heard about it and is getting involved.  Ask your pastor what your parish is doing. Better yet, go to the website dioceseofbrooklyn.org/fortnight-for-freedom or of the United States Catholic Conference (usccb.org). Become part of what seems destined to become a defining moment in our national and ecclesial histories.

Join in the prayer with our young people at St. Joseph’s Church on Pacific St. this Friday evening, starting with Mass at 7 p.m. and continuing throughout the night. Organize an overnight prayer vigil in your own parish or cluster! Download the printable prayer cards from one of the websites above, pray them and disseminate them. When church bells ring for 10 minutes in your neighborhood at noon on Friday, June 22, and Wednesday, July 4, to mark the opening and closing of the Fortnight, be prepared to tell your family, friends and neighbors why we must take action.

On the USCCB website, excellent reflections and readings from the Vatican II document on Religious Liberty (Dignitatis Humanae) are available for each of the 14 days.  These readings and the questions that follow them can be used for discussion — why not organize a group in your own home? — or for personal reflection.  Awareness and prayer must lead to action. Write to Congress to oppose the HHS mandate (and its so-called “accommodation”). Be aware of where your representatives stand and let your voice be heard loudly and clearly.

Voter registration drives will be conducted in all our parishes in the months ahead to ensure every voice resonates where it is best understood: at the ballot box.

We are at a juncture in the history of our nation — indeed of our own church in the U.S. — when all people of faith need to unite in prayer and action to commit ourselves to the defense of religious liberty and freedom of conscience.

We must take the leadership! Despite the rude awakening of some of our more prescient observers to the signs of the times, we are on the whole nowhere nearly as engaged as we need to be if we are to escape the fate of the ancients who, gleefully welcoming a different Trojan horse into their city, surrendered their freedom and their identity.

Our mistake, should we emulate theirs, would be to underestimate the determination of those who, under the guise of a gift, seek to occupy our religious institutions with mandates and schemes repugnant to our consciences and the dignity of human life. Effectively, when you take off the camouflage, it is no less than a bold attempt to impose one religion on all: state-established materialistic secularism.

If you imagined that this was just about contraception or the controversial HHS ruling, probe further. Current threats to religious liberty include not only discrimination against Catholic adoption and humanitarian services but also other church groups like Christian students on campus and small church congregations. Compelling religious groups to host same-sex “marriage” ceremonies and the use of force and intimidation against those providing pastoral care to immigrants on religious grounds are clear and present dangers to religious liberty.

The struggle may seem somewhat less urgent when compared to those of religious minorities in Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan and Indonesia. Like a cancerous tumor, however, often growing undetected until it has metastasized irremediably, history is full of the tragedies of complacent and deluded civilizations who failed to remain vigilant.