Make the Case for Religious Liberty

David “Reggie” R Vasquez, Visions Chairman

This year’s theme for Fortnight for Freedom 2017, sponsored by the USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) is “Freedom for Mission”.

In the recently published brochure titled “Our First, Most Cherished Liberty”, the Bishops exhort us to “…hold firm, stand fast, and insist upon what belongs to you by right as Catholics.”

The Fortnight for Freedom was established to promote the defense of religious liberty through education, prayer and action, and to encourage dioceses around the country to arrange special events to highlight the importance of defending religious freedom. The Fortnight for Freedom is from June 21 (the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More) – to July 4, Independence Day.

Our Bishops want us to better understand how to talk about Religious Freedom in a respectful way, especially in the divisive political environment we often encounter today. They want all of us to follow Christ as missionary disciples in seeking the truth, serving others and living our faith in all that we do. As Knights of Columbus, we are providentially positioned to carry out the mission to be an engaged, articulate, and well-formed Catholic laity.  We need to be endowed with a strong critical sense about trends in the dominant culture and have the courage to counter a pervasive and reductive secularism which would delegitimize the Church’s participation in public debate about issues which are determining the future of American society.  No one is better prepared than Knights to carry this measured defense of faith-based engagement into the public square.  

The Bishops recommend that each diocese choose a date within the Fortnight period for special events that would constitute a great national campaign of teaching and witness for religious liberty. Once again as Knights we can take a leadership role at the local level to promote religious liberty with simple yet effective events and programs in our parishes and gathering spaces. Shortly before the Independence Day holiday events, perhaps a council could host a free movie night with patriotic themes, refreshments and educational hand-outs?  Suggested movies might be For Greater Glory, or A Man for All Seasons, or other depiction of the faithful standing up against social oppression such as God’s Not Dead.

An event like this can be a real opportunity to encourage families and promote membership in our Order simply because we care enough to support our Bishops and priests in their efforts to strengthen religious freedom. Always remember the greater our numbers and our unity in such endeavors, the greater our strength and impact will be. Invite others to be bold in their faith and join us Knights as we witness for religious liberty.  Vivat Jesus!  Viva Cristo Rey!

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