The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has posted a video series for Religious Freedom Week 2018, inviting Catholics to pray and act in support of religious liberty.
“We have a duty to treat all persons with charity and justice, we have a duty to seek common ground in public life whenever possible,” says Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia in one video.
“But we also need to work vigorously in law and politics to protect our faith and to form our culture in a Christian understanding of human dignity and the purpose of human freedom. To do that, we need to defend our religious liberty.”
An eight-video YouTube series offers reflections on the importance of religious liberty.
The videos feature members of and consultants for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ standing committee for religious liberty.
Each day, a different bishop challenges Catholics to reflect on how religious freedom is connected to elements of the public square, such as medicine, immigration, and education. Other topics discussed in the video series include Christian persecution in the Middle East, and the importance of publicly proclaiming one’s faith.
Religious Freedom Week, held by the U.S. bishops’ conference, is observed this year from June 22-29. The theme for this year is “Serving Others in God’s Love.”
The conference website includes a list of suggested reflections, prayers, and actions that may be followed by parishes, families, and individuals during the week.
In the second video of the series, Archbishop Chaput highlights the importance of truth in politics, saying “dishonest language leads to dishonest politics, and dishonest politics leads to bad public policy and bad law.” He urges Catholics defend truth in the public sphere.
“As Catholic citizens, we owe it to our country to speak and to act in a spirit of truth and to insist on the same behavior from other people, including our elected and appointed leaders.”
Bishop James Conley of Lincoln, Nebraska says that Catholic education is a key part of the Church’s mission.
“But there are forces in our society and culture which would like to inhibit our freedoms…to be able to teach what we believe is the truth about the human person, about the dignity of life as well as God's plan for marriage between a man and a woman,” he says, emphasizing the need for religious freedom in education.
Bishop Joe Vasquez of Austin, who chairs the U.S. bishops’ committee on migration, notes the role that the Church plays in immigration and refugee resettlement.
“The Church has long sought to serve the unique needs of people on the move: from providing for basic needs, to assisting with resettlement, to offering legal services to help newcomers navigate the system of their host country.”
However, he warns, in recent years, Catholic entities have faced legal challenges because they will not facilitate abortions as part of their work with migrants.
“Those that try to force the Church to choose between unborn children and migrant children are undermining religious liberty,” Bishop Vasquez cautions.
Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, who chairs the religious freedom committee, concludes the video series by appealing to viewers “to pray that we might continue to take steps to make room within our culture for the exercise of religious freedom” and “to use that religious freedom in the public square well.”