Commentary

Catholic Bishops Launch 'Fortnight For Freedom' To Combat 'Persecution By Political Power'

By Craig Bannister | June 21, 2012 | 10:30am EDT

Today begins the “Fortnight For Freedom” for American Catholics. Running from June 21 to July 4, this initiative by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) seeks to combat and expose religious “persecution by political power” – such as the Obamacare mandate.

Beginning on the feast day of two Catholic martyrs and culminating on Independence Day, the Fortnight For Freedom is dedicated to prayer and public action, and includes a call to Catholics to write to Congress and the HHS “opposing the mandate (and) calling for conscience protections.”

The most imminent threat to religious liberty—but not the only one—that the Catholic bishops have been protesting and seeking to draw public attention to is a regulation that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius issued under President Barack Obama’s health care law. The regulation will require virtually all health-care plans in the United States to cover, without any fees or co-pay, sterilizations, artificial contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs.

Fortnight For Freedom

This month, the Catholic bishops are distributing an insert in church bulletins around the country pointing to the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s leadership of the Civil Rights Movement, and his defense of civil disobedience, noting that King, a Baptist minister, used the arguments of the Catholic Saints Augustine and Thomas Aquinas to justify peaceful resistance to unjust laws. In the bulletin insert, the bishops made clear that civil disobedience may be necessary when freedom of conscience is attacked.

“Some unjust laws impose such injustices on individuals and organizations that disobeying the laws may be justified,” says the bulletin insert.

“Every effort must be made to repeal them. When fundamental human goods, such as the right of conscience, are at stake, we may need to witness to the truth by resisting the law and incurring its penalties.”

In a longer statement on religious liberty published in April, the Catholic bishops plainly restated the Catholic teaching: “An unjust law cannot be obeyed.”

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