Bishop Loverde: This Independence Day, Catholics Must Remain Vigilant in the Fight to Retain Our Religious Liberty
ARLINGTON, VA (July 3, 2012) – The Most Reverend Paul S. Loverde, Bishop of Arlington and spiritual leader of Northern Virginia’s nearly half million Catholics, today released the following statement:
“As we celebrate Independence Day tomorrow, Catholics must remain vigilant in the fight to retain our religious liberty, so that we may continue to live as full citizens in this great country.
“Last week in Rome, when asked for my reaction to the Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act, I noted the importance of our first right, freedom of religion. It is the most precious of our rights, and I remain steadfast in my determination to defend it. I also strongly support the lawsuits filed by 43 dioceses and Catholic institutions around the country that reflect a broad cross-section of the life of the Church.
“It is very unfortunate that an effort to improve the healthcare system for all Americans, which the Church has long supported, was allowed to include this attack on Catholics’ religious freedom. The Supreme Court’s decision, though not addressing this issue, nevertheless confirms the challenge presented by the Obama Administration’s requirement that Church institutions provide insurance coverage of contraception, sterilizations and abortion-inducing drugs.
“There is no freedom without truth, and if the Church and its people are muzzled and pushed out of the public square, there can be no true freedom for anyone. Indeed, a nation purged of the Light of Truth is a nation without freedom.
“I am very gratified by the way our parishes all across the diocese answered my call to observe the Fortnight for Freedom. But at the close of the Fortnight tomorrow, our efforts of prayer, penance, education and advocacy cannot end. This is a marathon, not a sprint, and no matter how the Court had ruled last week, these encroachments upon our liberty are a continuing threat.
“This challenge is about the life of the Church, because to be fully alive She must not be insular but must be allowed to be a vital part of our society. We have always contributed to the common good and provided care to neighbors. We will not allow the government to define us out of ministries the Lord calls us to.
“We are very fortunate to have Saint Thomas More as our diocesan patron, and his great example reminds us that at the heart of all our efforts must be prayer. Like Saint Thomas, we are also called to action.
“I ask the faithful to continue making use of the resources available at www.arlingtondiocese.org/religiousliberty to become more educated on this vital issue and encourage family and friends to do the same. I also ask you to strengthen our advocacy work through the Virginia Catholic Conference (http://www.vacatholic.org/). The Conference represents me and our diocese as well as the Diocese of Richmond and its bishop in public policy matters before the Virginia General Assembly, and with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, before the federal government.
“You will continue to hear me speak out as this debate continues to unfold in the months ahead, especially with the increased focus brought on by November’s elections. We did not seek this struggle. The government has forced it upon us.”