By Francisco Gonzalez, JMI Vice President of Advancement
Posted June 20, 2012
Three years ago, the Tea Parties kicked off around the country. Their claim: government was getting too big and encroaching on individual liberties. Since its inception, the Tea Party’s biggest achievement may be bringing the Constitution back into the public arena.
Many individuals and groups—bankers, doctors, students, and more–have since thrown in with the Tea Party’s sentiments in opposing Big Government. The latest ally is possibly the biggest group imaginable: the Roman Catholic Church. With more than 68 million Catholics in America, the Church represents a huge bloc of Americans who are now fearful of the erosion of “our first most cherished liberty:” our religious liberty.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the foremost Catholic authority in this country, is launching a “Fortnight for Freedom.” For fourteen days from June 21 – the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More – to July 4, Independence Day, the Catholic Church has dedicated this “fortnight for freedom” to “a great hymn of prayer for our country,” says the USCCB website. “Our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face of persecution by political power – St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More, St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the first martyrs of the Church of Rome.”
Every Catholic diocese nationwide will be celebrating masses, dedicating specific prayer times and intentions, holding public lectures, calling for public action in opposition to the Health & Human Services mandate imposed by the Obama Administration, and calling on citizens and elected officials to stand up for religious liberty, as it has been observed since Pilgrims first arrived on the Mayflower.
The U.S. Catholic Bishops are encouraging all churches nationwide, Catholic and non-Catholic, to ring their bells at 12 noon on July 4th. I got chills when I first heard this, for it was back on July 4th, 1776, that the Liberty Bell first rang to declare our independence from an encroaching government. Few realize that there is actually a Bible verse inscribed on the Liberty Bell: “Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the Land unto all the inhabitants thereof.” (Leviticus 25:10)
Now, 236 years later, it is clear the Catholic Church sees a vital threat not only to its moral teachings but also to the right of its members to share and live out these teachings without threat of government forcing them to do otherwise. When Catholics like me come into church and start hearing lectures about our natural rights as protected by the Constitution, it is clear the government has gone too far.
I encourage Catholics and all Americans who cherish the First Amendment to join with the Church in taking a stand for religious liberty and fighting back against government mandates. Check the bulletin at your local parish to find out about area events and how you can get involved. As we approach this Independence Day, let’s once again proclaim liberty throughout all the land. Saint John Fisher and Saint Thomas More, pray for us!