In the United States, we celebrate a long history of religious freedom, protected under the First Amendment, passed by Congress September 25, 1789, and ratified on December 15, 1791.
Religious freedom permits the Church, and all religious communities, to live out their faith in public and to serve the good of all.
The Church’s promotion of religious freedom expresses her solidarity with all people who seek the good and who hope for fulfillment in the truth, which the Church teaches is ultimately found in Jesus Christ.
This year, as a Diocese, we led the way in showing how to safely open classrooms for in-school instruction. We lived out our baptismal call through our many efforts at Catholic Charities and Saint Vincent de Paul locations throughout Southeastern Connecticut. The meals, the rent and utility assistance, the donations of PPE, and the many, many prayers were all evidence of our religious freedom in action.
In 2021 this freedom continues to be challenged. A major area of concern is freedom for Catholic institutions, such as schools, hospitals, and child welfare service providers, to carry out their missions with integrity. However, religious organizations’ ability to partner with the government in its relief efforts and to receive needed government aid is continually threatened by legislative provisions that would exclude some faiths but not others.
Another issue of special concern is the wave of attacks on Catholic churches that began in May of 2020. Vandals demolished religious statues, entered churches and desecrated sanctuaries. There have been over 60 attacks so far, and that number continues to grow. The precise reasons for these attacks are often unknown. In some cases, they are tied to anger at perceived injustices from the past. Other cases may involve mental illness. In all cases, Catholics must remember that we worship the Lord who reveals the truth and beauty of the gospel in his suffering and resurrection and that we are called to respond to aggression with compassion.
Through prayer, education, and public action during Religious Freedom Week, we can promote the essential right of religious freedom for Catholics and for those of all faiths.
FCC News Desk