Last night, I had the pleasure of attending one of the many panels hosted by the Catholic Information Center here in Washington DC focused on the HHS Contraception Mandate, and our fight for religious freedom and conscience protection. Kim Daniels spoke on the specific legal aspects of the HHS Mandate. Gael Trotter outlined the many ministries and organizations that will suffer as a result of this. (Did you know: there are 2 million students in elementary and secondary Catholic schools; 600 Catholic hospitals with 120,000 beds and 650,000 full time staff; not to mention the thousands of food centers, homeless shelters, soup kitchens, prison ministries, colleges and universities, etc. etc.) Then, Lauren Petron spoke about the other threats to religious liberty in our country today (forced removal from certain ministries like adoption centers, and helping sex trafficking victims, criminalizing basic Christian charity through harsh immigration laws--this one is looming, and rarely talked about!--and disregarding individual conscience protections.) The talk, as with all the CIC's HHS Mandate presentations, was fascinating and informative. I highly recommend you check out it and their other discussions on their HHS Mandate Portal.
Of course, if you don't live in DC, you may not be able to attend such a marvelous discussion. There are plenty of resources out there for you:
1) If you haven't done so already, sign the Women Speak for Themselves open letter to President Obama, spearheaded by Kim Daniels and Helen Alvare, and create a video adding your voice to the almost 30,000 women who have spoken up in this forum.
2) Check out the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty's information page. The Becket Fund is representing the 43 individual organizations in the 12 federal law suits contesting the HHS Mandate. And they need our support. (They have been on the front lines for a long time on this issue.)
3) Check out the resources at the USCCB: Pray // Find events in your own Diocese // Learn more
// Read Cardinal Dolan's new e-book // and, if nothing else, check out the 12 Things Everyone Should Know flyer (pdf)
4) Contact Congress
5) Pass along this video from Catholic Vote.
6) Join us on July 4th at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception for a Mass closing the Fortnight for Freedom, with Cardinal Wuerl as the main celebrant and Archbishop Charles Chaput as the homilist.
7) (UPDATED) Read these articles by +Chaput and +Gomez
PRAYER FOR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
O God our Creator,
Through the power and working of your Holy Spirit,
you call us to live out our faith in the midst of the world,
bringing the light and the saving truth of the Gospel
to every corner of society.
We ask you to bless us
in our vigilance for the gift of religious liberty.
Give us the strength of mind and heart
to readily defend our freedoms when they are threatened;
give us courage in making our voices heard
on behalf of the rights of your Church
and the freedom of conscience of all people of faith.
Grant, we pray, O heavenly Father,
a clear and united voice to all your sons and daughters
gathered in your Church
in this decisive hour in the history of our nation,
so that, with every trial withstood
and every danger overcome—
for the sake of our children, our grandchildren,
and all who come after us—
this great land will always be "one nation, under God,
indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
We ask this through Christ our Lord.