Religious Freedom Week 2019: “Strength in Hope” takes place from June 22 to 29. The Week begins with the Feast of Saints John Fisher and Thomas More, ends with the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, and includes the Feast of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist. This year’s Religious Freedom Week is also notable in that it includes the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi) and the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
The theme for this year is Strength in Hope. It is taken from the Second Vatican Council’s Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity:
“In the pilgrimage of this life, hidden with Christ in God and free from enslavement to wealth, they aspire to those riches which remain forever and generously dedicate themselves wholly to the advancement of the kingdom of God and to the reform and improvement of the temporal order in a Christian spirit. Among the trials of this life they find strength in hope, convinced that ‘the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come that will be revealed in us’” (Rom. 8:18).
–Apostolicam actuositatem, 4
“Religious freedom remains one of America’s most precious possessions. And, as my brothers, the United States Bishops, have reminded us, all are called to be vigilant, precisely as good citizens, to preserve and defend that freedom from everything that would threaten or compromise it.” – Pope Francis
Resources and Information:
A special “Religious Freedom Mass” will be held in Louisville on Wednesday, July 3, 5:00 p.m. at the Little Sisters of the Poor (15 Audubon Plaza Drive, Louisville, KY 40217).
Religious Freedom Week Talking Points
- Religious Freedom Week is June 22 – 29, 2019, beginning with the feast of Saints Thomas More and John Fisher, including the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist, and ending with the feast of Saints Peter and Paul. The week also includes the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi) and the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.
- The USCCB provides “Pray – Reflect – Act” documents—one for each day on different religious liberty topics. These materials help people learn about religious liberty from a Catholic perspective, pray about particular issues, and act on what they learn, whether by finding ways for their parish to serve their community or perhaps even by calling members of Congress to promote legislation supporting religious liberty.
- This year’s “Pray-Reflect-Act” gives a sense of the breadth of religious liberty issues of particular concern for the bishops at the present time. For international concerns, the Office of Religious Liberty has collaborated with the Office of International Justice and Peace to highlight three regions in the world where persecution of religious minorities is severe, the Middle East, Myanmar, and Nigeria. We need to be in solidarity with people throughout the world who suffer for their faith.
- Domestically, a major area of concern continues to be freedom for child welfare service providers. The opioid crisis is putting a strain on the foster care system. The number of children in need is going up. The number of families willing to take the children into their homes is going down. And in places like Illinois, Massachusetts, California, and D.C., service providers like Catholic Charities who have a track record of excellence in recruiting and assisting foster families have been shut down.
- Another area that has become of particular concern is the imposition of religious tests on Catholic nominees to the federal judiciary. In 2017, during U.S. Senate confirmation hearings, a nominee was asked intrusive questions about her Catholic faith in an exchange which included a senator saying, “The dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern.” More recently, several nominees have been interrogated about their membership in the Knights of Columbus. These kinds of questions amount to a religious test, which is both unjust and unconstitutional. We are urging Catholics to contact their senators to say that religious tests are unacceptable.
- Religious Freedom Week succeeded the Fortnight for Freedom last year for a few reasons:
- A “week” is simpler than a “fortnight.” Many public awareness campaigns take place over the course of a week—such as Catholic Schools Week, National Migration Week, and National Marriage Week. A week provides a focused period of time to concentrate our attention on the issue of religious freedom.
- Although the Fortnight sought to raise awareness of several religious freedom issues, it was associated heavily in many people’s minds with the HHS contraceptive mandate. While the HHS mandate remains a live issue and is still being challenged in several courts, awareness needs to be raised concerning other important religious freedom issues as well.
- Over the last few years, the Fortnight has shifted to more of a prayer and education campaign. Religious freedom encompasses a number of areas— affecting the entire Church—and not just our Church, but all people of faith who seek to live out their faith in daily life and in the public square.
- Through prayer, education, and public action during Religious Freedom Week, we will promote the essential right of religious freedom for Catholics and for those of all faiths.
Religious Freedom Resources:
Religious Freedom Video
An animated video promoting Religious Freedom Week is available for sharing.
Religious Freedom Bulletin Inserts
Please use this bulletin insert on June 9 and 16, 2019, the two Sundays before Religious Freedom Week begins, to notify Catholics about this initiative. The talking points included also can be used in bulletins and other parish communication vehicles. The Religious Freedom Week logo is available in English and Spanish.
Pray – Reflect – Act
During Religious Freedom Week, Catholics are encouraged to pray and act each day for religious freedom. The Pray-Reflect-Act series aims to help Catholics build solidarity with people of faith who are persecuted abroad and find strength to carry out the mission of the Church here in the United States.
Social Media Downloads
Social media downloads with the prayer intention for each day of Religious Freedom Week are available. Please distribute these materials through your channels where appropriate.
June Word of Life
Eucharistic Holy Hour Template/en Español
Litany for Liberty/en Español
Downloadable Prayer Cards
– Mary Immaculate
– Our Lady of Guadalupe
– St. Thomas More
Press Releases: Current Threats to Religious Freedom