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Violent threats against people of faith are the opposite of human rights

 

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For centuries, Catholics have sought to foster a culture of respect for all human life and contribute to the common good for all people in this country.

In our great nation, the Catholic Church is renowned for running hospitals and schools, particularly in the inner-city, but Catholics have also been deeply involved in the provision of many other services, such as adoption and foster care, refugee resettlement and migration services, feeding the hungry, supporting low-income housing, and offering comprehensive services in resource centers for pregnant and parenting mothers. These services are offered to everyone of all faiths, or none at all, regardless of their race, immigration status, country of origin.

This legacy of civic engagement is rooted in our faith. Catholics undertake all these activities because we have encountered Jesus, who, by his words and actions, teaches us to serve others.

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Sadly, our contributions to educating, feeding, healing, housing, and caring for the most vulnerable in society are not welcomed by everyone. Indeed, we seem to face growing hostility for putting our faith into action.

State and local governments have gone out of their way to challenge Christian adoption and foster care services, for continuing to uphold the truth about marriage.

Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Houston vandalized with pro-choice message.
(Fox 26 Houston)

Activists have sought to undermine the Church’s mission by forcing Catholic hospitals to perform procedures that destroy human life and undermine human dignity, such as sterilization, gender reassignment surgery, and even abortion, and attempted to strip away basic conscience protections from those doctors and nurses who object. Governments have attempted to force pregnancy resource centers to communicate messages that undermine and run directly counter to their very mission.

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These types of movements are not new.  The anti-Catholicism of the 19th century gave us Blaine Amendments, which prevent religious schools from having fair access to government aid, and have severely curtailed the freedoms of all religious parent to choose what kind of education to give to their children.

Sadly, our contributions to educating, feeding, healing, housing, and caring for the most vulnerable in society are not welcomed by everyone. Indeed, we seem to face growing hostility for putting our faith into action.

 

The Supreme Court this week, thanks be to God, struck down one such law in the State of Maine; far too many “Blaine Amendments” remain on the books, including here in New York.

The message of these campaigns has been clear: Catholics must dilute their faith if they want to live out their convictions in public life and serve those in need.

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This message has taken a disturbing turn in recent years, especially over the past few weeks. Since 2020, there have been nearly 140 reported acts of vandalism and arson on Catholic sites in the U.S. While the precise motivations for some of these incidents were unclear, in many cases, the vandals clearly intended to attack the Church’s position of respect for all human life.

Since the disturbing leak of the draft opinion in the Supreme Court case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, these types of attacks have worsened.  Churches have been vandalized, and pregnancy resource centers have even been firebombed.  Those engaged in these acts threaten churches and charities with further violence.  And for what?  It is astonishing that those who claim to defend choice would attack and terrorize people who work to give women the opportunity and resources to welcome children into the world, especially as these comprehensive alternatives are not offered by abortion clinics.

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Freedom of religion means much more than the right to worship in your chosen church, mosque, temple, or synagogue.  It means having the freedom to live out your deeply-held religious beliefs, to carry your faith outside the walls of a church and to put that faith into practice. It is a fundamental human right, and is core to American identity. The threat of violence against people of faith is antithetical to human rights.

Beginning June 22, the Feast of Saints Thomas More and John Fisher—two heroes of our faith, who gave their lives for the freedom of the Church and for freedom of conscience—the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops celebrates Religious Freedom Week.  During this time, we encourage Catholics to pray for religious freedom, both here in the United States and around the world.

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I encourage my fellow Catholics to continue accompany people in need, and to pray in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in places like Nigeria, where Catholics have been victims of terrible violent persecution.

Together, we can work to advance a culture of life and dignity for all.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM CARDINAL TIMOTHY DOLAN
 

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