June 22-28 is Religious Freedom Week
As we cross into summer and prepare for Independence Day, Catholics are being asked this week to remember one of the fundamental rights guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution: religious freedom.
The U.S. Catholic bishops have declared the period from Saturday, June 22, to Friday, June 28, as Religious Freedom Week. Each day is set aside for a specific intention, and suggested daily prayers and actions are found online at usccb.org/freedom.
We’re sure many will dismiss the request. We’ve grown comfortably used to this freedom. Besides, aren’t the major threats to religious freedom in distant lands such as the Middle East?
It’s important to pray for those who do not have the religious liberties we enjoy, and the bishops encourage that during Religious Freedom Week. Sunday’s intention is for our Christian sisters and brothers in the Middle East; Tuesday’s is for the Rohingya, Muslims who are not recognized by the government in Myanmar; and Thursday‘s is for Nigeria, where the extremist group Boko Haram has fomented Muslim-Christian discord.
But our religious freedom also needs to be safeguarded close to home. Monday’s intention is for those who serve our country as elected officials and judges; Wednesday’s is for faith-based organizations assisting those seeking adoption and foster care services according to their convictions; Friday’s is for the conversion of the hearts of those seeking to remove religious symbols from public life, and Saturday’s is that the dignity and right to religious freedom of incarcerated persons would be respected.
Religious freedom is a reason why so many came, and still come, to our nation. Be especially grateful for it this week, and join in prayer to preserve and spread it. — Thomas J. Dermody