Religious Freedom Week Is June 22-29
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Religious Freedom Week will be observed in the United States from June 22-29, beginning with the feast day of Sts. Thomas More and John Fischer and concluding with the feast day of Sts. Peter and Paul. The theme for this year is “Serving Others in God’s Love.”
During this week, we are invited to reflect on the importance of religious freedom in our nation; to grow in understanding of current issues surrounding this right and to respond to attempts to limit it. The Church needs religious freedom if we are to have the space to continue to serve in areas like education, adoption and foster care, healthcare, and migration and refugee services. There are also issues of religious liberty involving business owners, doctors and medical professionals, and other people who try to live out their faith in daily life and work. As we work to defend this precious gift in our own nation, we are also invited to pray for our brothers and sisters of faith who face intense persecution in other parts of the world. I invite you to participate in the Religious Freedom Prayer, Reflection and Action activities for each day of this week, which can be found at www.usccb.org/ReligiousFreedomWeek.
One area of particular concern this year is freedom for child welfare service providers. With the opioid crisis, there is a strain on the foster care systems as the number of children in need is rising dramatically. However, in some states, including my home state of Illinois, faith-based foster care providers have been shut down because they refused to compromise their religious convictions. The federal Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act (H.R. 1881/S. 811) would protect the religious liberty of child welfare service providers, including adoption and foster care agencies. Please check the USCCB Action Alert Center and the website of the Indiana Catholic Conference (www.Indianacc.org) for legislation updates on this and other important policy issues involving religious liberty.
Through prayer, education and action during Religious Freedom Week, may we work to promote the importance of preserving the essential right of religious freedom, for now and for the future, for Catholics and for all people of faith.
May the Lord bless you, your families and our nation.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Bishop Joseph Siegel