FORTNIGHT FOR FREEDOM
This Thursday the Catholic Church in the United States will begin to observe what has been entitled a “Fortnight for Freedom.” I will not retrace the steps which have led the Church in this country to this point, as I have addressed them several times here and anyone reading even the secular press knows that we and other religious leaders feel that religion is witnessing a major reduction in the liberties and freedoms which it has long enjoyed in recent years. The Fortnight, therefore, is an attempt to move the growing conscious awareness of what is happening into as many Catholic homes and minds as possible for reflection and prayer. I will celebrate a special diocesan Mass at St. Paul’s Catholic Church on Dale Mabry North in Tampa (map and directions) on Friday, June 29, 2012 at 7:30pm and I hope as many people as can will come and pray with me for a restoration of those liberties which we have lost and an end to future incursions into classic American freedom of religion. Your parish should be doing some other things to support the effort of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB), especially through special prayers at Mass during the Intercessions, bulletin announcements and as some parishes have done already, evening reflections and presentations on the issues involved. The Fortnight will be brought to a conclusion on Independence Day, the Fourth of July, with the ringing of Church bells at noon.
While I am appreciative and supportive of this national effort, I am also extremely concerned about the passage this Fall of two amendments to the Florida State Constitution: Amendment Six which would guarantee that no federal or state monies would be spent on abortions, and Amendment Eight which would eradicate the long-standing Blaine Amendment in our present constitution which precludes the use of any state monies for the support of any religious enterprise. Why do our children not get rides on school buses in this state? The Blaine Amendment. Why do our children not get access to textbooks for secular non-religion courses in our schools? The Blaine Amendment. Worried that one cannot go to the political well too often, I hope our parishes and institutions will work hard this fall in passing both of these important amendments to our state constitution. The history of the Blaine Amendment in the US is deeply rooted in anti-Catholic bigotry and should be an embarrassment to all fair and open-minded citizens. So, while we will cooperate and participate in the Fortnight for Freedom, I have these two other matters in my mind and know we will have to work hard to pass them. Florida statute requires a 60% “yes” vote on amendments to the Constitution for passage and that is a sizeable challenge.
There is a lot on the civic stove cooking at this moment and I hope you will walk these various paths with me and with the Church to achieve important changes in attitudes and law.
Tags: Amendment Eight, Amendment Six, Blaine Amendment, Catholic, Florida, Florida State Constitution, Fortnight for Freedom, Fourth of July, Independence Day, Mass, Photo, Roman Catholic, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB