"To be Catholic and to be American should not mean having to choose one over the other," said Father Robert Zilliox in a Mass that began the two week period known as the Fortnight for Freedom. The bishops of the United States have asked Catholics to celebrate the national effort to educate Americans on the challenges to religious liberty, from June 21 - July 4. This year's theme is 'Witnesses to freedom.'
"On this vigil of Saints John Fisher and Thomas More, we gather to celebrate the freedom given to us through the Eucharist," said Father Zilliox during Mass at the Dominican Monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary on Doat Street. "My friends in Christ, we indeed are Catholic and we are American. We can be proud of both."
Father Zilliox drew attention to the Little Sisters of Poor who have launched a legal challenge against federal regulations requiring even religious organizations to provide employees with contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs. "This is the kind of freedom that can transform society and achieve a kind of freedom that should animate all of our talk on liberty and justice and freedom."
The US Conference of Catholic Bishops have also asked Catholics to reflect upon issues affecting state immigration laws, alteration of Church scriptures and governance, Christian students on college campuses, Catholic foster care and adoptive services.
"There's a call to us on this day and at this time to speak freely, to speak boldly knowing that the grace of the Holy Spirit is with us to bring those freedoms, those truths to the world in which we live," said Father Zilliox. "The threat against religious freedom is very real and if we do not begin to raise our voices in opposition now, there is no telling when this invasion of government in the eternal life of the Church will end, and how much of this hangs in the balance."
Fortnight for Freedom continues through July 4. For a list of events in the Diocese of Buffalo visit http://www.buffalodiocese.org/fortnight-for-freedom. For information on the national level, visit www.Fortnight4Freedom.org.