June 11, 2024 // National

Celebrate Religious Freedom Week June 22-29

From Saturday, June 22 (the feast of SS. Thomas More and John Fisher), to Saturday, June 29 (the feast of SS. Peter and Paul), the Church marks the annual observance of Religious Freedom Week. The theme of this year’s celebration is “Called to the Fullness of Dignity.”

Throughout the week, the faithful are called to pray, reflect, and act on daily topics related to religious freedom both here in the United States and abroad. The daily topics are:

• Saturday, June 22: Respect for Sacred Spaces

• Sunday, June 23: Blasphemy and Apostasy Laws

• Monday, June 24: Freedom to Speak the Truth

• Tuesday, June 25: Service to Immigrants

• Wednesday, June 26: Pray for India

• Thursday, June 27: Faith at Work

• Friday, June 28: Civility

• Saturday, June 29: Catholic Health Care.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) helps guide the faithful through the week, offering prayers, reflections, and ways to take action at usccb.org/religiousfreedomweek. The resources show the breadth of religious liberty issues of concern to the bishops of the United States.

Domestically, a major area of concern continues to be freedom for Catholic institutions, such as schools, hospitals, and child welfare service providers, to carry out their missions with integrity. In particular, the bishops are concerned about Catholic health care, as the Biden Administration proposed a cascade of changes to federal regulations throughout the past year that remove conscience protections from health care institutions and individuals. 

In January, spearheaded by Bishop Rhoades, Chairman of the USCCB’s Committee for Religious Liberty, officials with the U.S. bishops published a new annual report that identifies five top threats to religious liberty in the United States. In the first annual “State of Religious Liberty in the United States,” published on January 16, officials said potential threats to religious liberty in the United States largely come in the form of federal regulations or cultural trends.

Five key areas of concern, the 48-page report said, include attacks against houses of worship, especially in the aftermath of the Israel-Hamas conflict; the Section 1557 regulation from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which the report said “will likely impose a mandate on doctors to perform gender transition procedures and possibly abortions”; threats to religious charities serving migrants and refugees, “which will likely increase as the issue of immigration gains prominence in the election”; suppression of religious speech “on marriage and sexual difference”; and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Pregnant Workers Fairness Act regulations, which the report said “aim to require religious employers to be complicit in abortion in an unprecedented way.”

In January, Bishop Rhoades, who oversaw the report, told OSV News that the committee began this annual project in order to “educate the faithful” and “motivate people to get involved in promoting and protecting religious liberty.”

Through prayer, education, and public action during Religious Freedom Week, the faithful can promote the essential right of religious freedom for Catholics and for those of all faiths. To connect with the USCCB’s Committee for Religious Liberty, text FREEDOM to 84576 and sign up for “First Freedom News,” the Committee for Religious Liberty’s monthly newsletter.

OSV News and the USCCB contributed to this report.

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