The US Bishops have called on Catholics throughout the country today to engage in a day of prayer and fasting for Religious Liberty.
We should be clear that this is not about what is derisively known as "obamacare" nor is it about whether or not people have a right to basic health care. The church is clear that the later is true.
This is about our belief that every human being has a right to practice their faith. The Second Varican Council December 7, 1965 in its document Dignitas Humanae proclaimed
This Vatican Council declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom. This freedom means that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wise that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits.
Yes, those last three words admit that, like every right, this right has legitimate limits. Human sacrifice, for example, in the name of religion could not be called a right, because it violates the most basic right to life.
Sixteen words in the first amendment of our own constitution reflect this same belief:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof
This day was spurred into being by the HHS mandate. Like many drugs, it is true that the hormones pills commonly referred to as birth control pills, can be prescribed to treat a number of conditions. To force Catholic institutions to provide them as birth control, however, would be a violation of our right to free exercise of our faith. For women who want them for that purpose there are many other ways to have free access.
Today is about more than this single bill or a single faith. Our church does not teach that Christians alone have a right to religious freedom. Adherents of all faiths share that right. Today is a day of prayer about a human right.
Let us unite our prayers with all our faithful brothers and sisters.