Thursday, Jun 21, 2012

Leaders of Catholic hospitals, universities, child-welfare programs and Catholic charities across the state have signed the following op-ed that highlights the mission of the Church in everyday life. The op-ed is being sent to newspapers statewide during the "Fortnight for Freedom" set for June 4-July 4, with signatures representing Catholic institutions in each media market.


Op-ed for the “Fortnight for Freedom”

We are leaders of Catholic organizations dedicated to educating, healing, comforting, feeding, and caring for all. The love of Christ compels us to do this.

We are public in our ministry and yet we are also religious. Our services flow from our Catholic character, mission and values, and they benefit many – Catholic and non-Catholic alike.

We are lending our voice to a nationwide call for religious freedom. This “Fortnight for Freedom” beginning on June 21 will spotlight the federal government’s recent mandate from the Department of Health and Human Services. This mandate ignores the First Amendment right of the free exercise of religion.

The mandate requires that an entity meet certain criteria if it is to be deemed religious: The purpose of the organization is to indoctrinate its religious values; it must primarily employ individuals of its faith; and it must primarily serve people of its faith. We would not qualify as “religious” under these terms – and neither would the works of Jesus or Mother Teresa.

The word “Catholic” means universal and comprehensive, as is the mission of the Catholic Church.  We serve, feed, and care for anyone who comes to our door. We employ anyone who is qualified.  That is our definition of “religious.”

Our faith goes beyond the sanctuary of the local Catholic Church.  It is found at the bedsides of our nursing homes and hospitals, in the classrooms of our universities and schools, and in the soup kitchens of our Catholic Charities.

The words of Richard Garnett, a law professor at the University of Notre Dame, perhaps sum it up best. “Religious institutions . . . are trying to avoid being conscripted by the government into acting in a way that would be inconsistent with their character, mission, and values.”

Americans have a long-standing tradition of upholding religious freedom. Please visit and join us in this “Fortnight for Freedom.”