Conscience Rights / Religious Freedom

Protecting Conscience Rights and Religious Freedom: On March 1, the Blunt Amendment (Respect for Rights of Conscience Act), supported by the USCCB, was defeated in the U.S. Senate by a 51-48 vote.

, June 21-July 4, 2012

Selected coverage of for the Fortnight for Freedom, June 24 to July 4, 2012:
TWO WEEKS OF ACTION: Catholic Bishops are calling for two weeks of public protest against President Barack Obama’s policies, particularly the administration’s contraception mandate. Dubbed “A Fortnight for Freedom”, it will be held between June 21 and July 4, 2012. The dates were picked to run from the feast day of martyrs St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More to Independence Day. “This special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action would emphasize both our Christian and American heritage of liberty,” the bishops said. “Religious liberty is not only about our ability to go to Mass on Sunday or pray the Rosary at home. It is about whether we can make our contribution to the common good of all Americans. Can we do the good works our faith calls us to do, without having to compromise that very same faith? What is at stake is whether America will continue to have a free, creative, and robust civil society–or whether the state alone will determine who gets to contribute to the common good, and how they get to do it.” This is not a matter of whether contraception may be prohibited by the government. It is not even a matter of whether contraception may be supported by the government. It is a matter of whether religious people and institutions may be forced by the government to provide coverage for contraception and sterilization, even when it violates our religious beliefs.

After the Fortnight | (Español), Cardinal Wuerl's latest e-letter,, July 9, 2012
Photos from the Fortnight around the Country,

VIDEO: Archbishop Charles Chaput -- Fortnight for Freedom Closing Mass Homily, Vimeo
VIDEO (2 hrs.): Fortnight for Freedom Closing Mass - 2012-07-04 Washington DC, EWTN/YouTube, July 6, 2012
Fortnight for Freedom Closing Mass Homily (also as PDF
PDF) -Transcript of Archbishop Chaput’s homily,, July 4, 2012
Statement of Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington on Fortnight for Freedom,, July 4, 2012
Video: Baltimore Mass for Freedom Freedom, June 21, 2012 [in full] EWTN - YouTube
Video: Holy Mass for Religious Freedom from St. Patricks, June 22, 2012 EWTN - YouTube
List of Fortnight for Freedom/Religious Liberty Programming on EWTN

Opening and closing Masses to be televised on EWTN,, June 13, 2012

Calendar [July 4] - National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception,

Baltimore, Washington Liturgies to Bookend National Celebration of Fortnight for Freedom,, May 18, 2012
Baltimore, Washington Liturgies To Bookend National Celebration Of Fortnight For Freedom,, May, 18 2012

Archbishop Lori kicks-off Fortnight for Freedom with call to action,, June 22, 2012
HHS Mandate, Religious Liberty and the Martyrs of Tyburn [transcript of Archbishop Lori's Homily],, June 22, 2012
FORTNIGHT FOR FREEDOM -- U.S. Catholics and Religious Liberty: The Origins, George Weigel,, June 22, 2012
• More Related News (

Archdiocese of Washington - Fortnight for Freedom, June 24, 2012:
Videos: Fortnight for Freedom - A Celebration of Freedom
'You and I Are Responsible for This Moment' -Transcript of Archbishop Chaput’s homily|, July 4, 2012
At Fortnight closing Mass at National Shrine, overflow crowd prays for religious freedom,, July 5, 2012
Record Crowd Closes Fortnight For Freedom At National Shrine In Washington,, July 5, 2012
Fortnight for Freedom's Fitting Conclusion on Independence Day |, July 4, 2012
Local Catholics gather 'to stand up for what is right, to stand up for freedom of religion',, June 28, 2012

Basilica To Host Closing Mass Of Fortnight for Freedom,, June 28, 2012

Washington rally brings 2,000 together in support of religious freedom, CNS/, June 27, 2012
Catholic and American | Archdiocese of Washington, June 26, 2012
DC religious freedom event stresses role of liberty in America, CNA/, June 25, 2012
Celebration of Freedom,, June 24, 2012

Fortnight for Freedom - June 24, 2012 Event, Archdioces of Washington News Release, June 6, 2012
People invited to stand together for religious freedom at June 24 Fortnight for Freedom event,, June 6, 2012

Stand Up for Religious Freedom Rally - June 8, 2012
NATIONWIDE RALLY FOR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM: On Fri., June 8, 2012, thousands of faithful citizens gathered in prayer and public witness in cities and towns nationwide to oppose the HHS mandate and stand up in defense of our religious freedom. For more, visit:
Americans Stand Up for Religious Freedom on Bill of Rights’ Anniversary,, June 8, 2012
Second nationwide rally shows religious freedom movement has momentum, Catholic News Agency, June 8, 2012
Americans Rally Nationwide, Demand Obama HHS Mandate Reversal,, June 8, 2012
Stand Up for Religious Freedom rally draws crowd to Capitol Hill park, CNS News Briefs, June 8, 2012
Stand Up for Religious Freedom in Va. Beach - Thousands Gather Across USA, Catholic Online, June 10, 2012
Religious freedom rally and the health care act (slide show), The Washington Post, June 8, 2012

Supreme Court Decision on Health Care Legislation
Archbishop Lori: Religious Liberty Bid Unaffected By Supreme Court Ruling, EWTN/Catholic News Agency, July 5, 2012
Supreme Court Upholds Health-Care Law, Stage Set for First Amendment Showdown |, June 29, 2012
Religious Liberty Takes Center Stage-Commentary |, June 29, 2012
What the Court Said About Obamacare | June 29, 2012
Bishops urge Congress to fix health law flaws after high court decision,, June 28, 2012
Bishops Renew Plea To Congress And Administration To Repair Affordable Care Act |, June 28, 2012
Groups Vow to Continue Fighting for Religious Liberty as Supreme Court Upholds Affordable Care Act |
    CNA/, June 28, 2012
More to come: Lawsuits over HHS mandate keep health reform law in court, Catholic News Service, June 28, 2012

Other Religious Freedom News
Archbishop Lori on Weapons for Defending Freedom (Part 2), EWTN/, July 4, 2012
Archbishop Lori on Weapons for Defending Freedom (Part 1), EWTN/, July 3, 2012
Perspectives on the 'First Freedom' |, June 29, 2012
Archbishop Lori Tells Rome Conference That Religious Freedom Must Be Defended |, June 28, 2012
PDF -- Current-Threats-to-Religious-Liberty, USCCB Fact Sheet, Summer 2012
Advisory Memo To Journalists,, June 27, 2012
Learn More About Religious Liberty - Archdiocese of Washingon
CHA urges expanded religious exemption, says government must pay, CNS/, June 16, 2012
Catholic Health Association reverses course on mandate accommodation,, June 15, 2012
Major media 'missed the boat' on coverage of HHS mandate lawsuits, analysts say,, June 15, 2012
New Letter Opposes HHS Mandate's Distinctions for Religious Groups,, June 13, 2012
Maryland history frames fortnight for freedom,, June 12, 2012
Archbishop Lori Highlights Role Of Laity In Fortnight For Freedom, CNA/, June 12, 2012
Editorial: "Religious freedom is not a partisan issue",, June 8, 2012
CUA president pens columns about HHS mandate, CNS Blog, June 7, 2012
At conference, faith leaders urge united effort defending religious freedom,, June 7, 2012
Interfaith group urges that HHS mandate be changed to address religious freedom concerns,, June 7, 2012
Religious freedom issues at heart of HHS lawsuits, legal scholars say,, June 5, 2012
Public Comments Overwhelmingly Oppose HHS Mandate,, June 3, 2012
Cardinal Dolan Applauds Church Agencies As They Challenge HHS For Violating Religious Freedom,, May 21, 2012
Catholic University’s lawsuit against the federal government is a matter of religious liberty|, May 24, 2012
Archdiocese of Washington Files Lawsuit Defending Religious Freedom |, May 22, 2012
Archdiocese of Washington Files Lawsuit Defending Religious Freedom |, May 21, 2012
Let Freedom Ring! Archbishop Lori delivers address on the challenge to religious liberty|, May 24, 2012
Editorial- "Academic Freedom/Ecclesial Communion" |, May 23, 2012
At installation, Baltimore's new archbishop emphasizes nation's heritage of religious liberty|, May 18, 2012
United for Religious Freedom, Archdiocese of Washington, from our May 20, 2012, Parish Bulletin
Editorial: "Disappointed But Not Surprised", Catholic Standard, May 10, 2012

Stand Up for Religious Freedom Rally - March 23, 2012
Selected coverage of the March 23 Stand Up for Religious Freedom Rally.

Courthouses, statehouses sites for religious freedom rallies across U.S.,, March 29, 2012
Why we're standing up for religious freedom,, March 23, 2012
PHOTOS: Tens of thousands decry HHS mandate in 146 nationwide protests,, March 23, 2012
Americans Rally for Religious Freedom,, March 23, 2012
I Stood For Religious Freedom in Norfolk, Virginia: Freedom Movement in America,, March 23, 2012
Americans protest contraception coverage in health insurance mandate,, March 23, 2012
Photo Slideshow: Rally Protests Federal Contraceptive Mandate,, March 23, 2012
Rally for Religious Freedom planned Friday in Bel Air will target controversial HHS mandates,, March 21, 2012

Italian cardinal says US religious freedom debate a warning for Europe
,, April 19, 2012
Our First, Most Cherished Liberty: A Statement on Religious Liberty by the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious
| en Español,, April 12, 2012
Catholics urged to resist unjust laws, join in 'fortnight for freedom',, April 12, 2012
HHS announces comment period on mandate accommodation,, March 16, 2012
Religious Freedom and Protecting Healthcare for Women and Children, (Cardinal Dolan's Blog), March 16, 2012
Catholic Bishops Call For Prayer For Religious Liberty,, March 16, 2012
Bishops Promise To Continue ‘Vigorous Efforts’ Against HHS Violations Of Religious Freedom In Health Care
   Reform Mandate
,, March 14, 2012
Catholic bishops say fight against White House mandate a top priority,, March, 14, 2012
Cardinal Dolan Voices Dismay at Handling by White House in Letter Updating Bishops on HHS Mandate
Controversy,, March 2, 2012
State-Level Contraceptive Mandates Call for National Solution, National Catholic Register, Mar. 2, 2012
Little Sisters of the Poor call for reversal of HHS mandate, Catholic Standard, March 2, 2012
How Catholics Voted on the Blunt Amendment, National Catholic Register, Mar. 2, 2012
USCCB says Senate vote 'impels the church to strengthen its resolve' on religious freedom, Catholic News Service,
   Mar. 1, 2012
Church plans to redouble effort for law to protect religious conscience, Catholic News Service, Mar. 1, 2012
HHS mandate presents problems of principle, practicality, bishop says, Catholic Standard, Feb. 29, 2012
Bishop tells committee about 'absurd' effects of contraceptive mandate, Catholic News Service, Feb. 29, 2012
States, women, senators join fight against HHS contraceptive mandate, Catholic News Service, Feb. 27, 2012
Revised contraceptive mandate prompts reaction from Catholic groups,, Feb. 16, 2012
Cardinal urges Senate to pass bill protecting conscience in health care,, Feb. 15, 2012
HHS Mandate - Nothing Has Changed, e-Letter, Donald Cardinal Wuerl,, Feb. 13, 2012
Obama's revised HHS mandate won't solve problems, USCCB president says,, Feb. 13, 2012
USCCB official: Revision in coverage still violates religious liberty,, Feb. 13, 2012

Cardinal Wuerl's " Statement on White House announcement on the HHS mandate,", Feb. 10, 2012
Bishops Studying Initial White House Movement On Religious Liberty,, Feb. 10, 2012.

Bishops Renew Call To Legislative Action On Religious Liberty: Regulatory changes limited and unclear; Rescission of mandate only complete solution; Continue urging passage of Respect for Rights of Conscience Act,, Feb.10, 2012. To write your representatives, CLICK HERE.

Resources and Background on HHS Rule and Contraceptive Coverage, USCCB- January 25, 2012 [Conscience Rights] | Statement of the Archdiocese of Washington on HHS Mandate Upheld by Obama Administration, Archdiocese of Washington, Jan. 19, 2012; U.S. Bishops Vow To Fight HHS Edict, USCCB, January 20, 2012.
• Related Cardinal Wuerl urges action to protect conscience rights [in health care], Catholic Standard, Dec. 22, 2011.
From the USCCB: Over 400 Catholic [now up to 434] leaders are calling on Congress and the Administration to protect conscience rights in health care. The open letter appeared as a full page ad PDF
featuring over 150 of those leaders in the New York Times and the Washington Post on December 21.

For more, visit NCHLA Grassroots Action Center and Support Respect for Rights of Conscience Act - Action Alert.
Also, download the USCCB's HHS Mandate Bulletin Insert in English
PDF or en Español PDF.

Religious Freedom in Maryland: The Bishops of Maryland have written a statement on religious liberty which reviews the history and role of religious freedom in our society, highlights present-day threats to this freedom, and offers ways to get involved. A two-page summarized version is included in the Nov. 19/20 parish bulletin (click here to download a PDF copy
PDF). The complete statement, The Most Sacred of All Property: Religious Freedom and the People of Maryland, is available at our parish and also in PDF form PDF from the Archdiocese and the Maryland Catholic Conference, or it may be downloaded directly here. Read Cardinal Wuerl's November 9, 2011 e-letter [PDF PDF] and watch his video on the First Freedom on YouTube.


MARYLAND BISHOPS ISSUE STATEMENT ON POVERTY: Nearly 700,000 Maryland families receive food assistance through food stamps - more than the entire population of the city of Baltimore and more than 10,000 Marylanders are experiencing homelessness. Maryland’s bishops are urging Catholics to help their neighbors living in poverty. The statement coincides with U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ designation of January as Poverty in American Awareness Month. Help build a society more responsive to the needs of the poor and vulnerable. Learn more at Contact your representavices: CLICK HERE.


Protecting Women: The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene drafted regulations that will do much to protect the health and safety of women undergoing abortions. Although we regret that abortion is legal and causes the deaths of more than a million unborn babies each year in America, it’s important that abortion clinics are regulated as surgical facilities. The draft regulations are open for comment for 30 days, which began Jan. 14, 2012. Visit: for more information.
Baltimore archbishop praises ruling in favor of pregnancy centers, Catholic News Agency, July 7, 2012
Maryland to Issue Abortion Clinic Regulations,, June 22, 2012

More on our December 10, 2011 Mass, Rosary Procession, and Prayerful Protest with Cardinal Wuerl to Germantown Reproductive Health Services:
At Mass for life and procession to abortion clinic, Cardinal encourages people to be witnesses for Jesus' life and love,, December 12, 2011;
Cardinal Wuerl Offers Words of Encouragement to Those Protecting the Unborn,, December 10, 2011;

Cardinal Wuerl Leads Vigil Outside LeRoy Carhart's Maryland Business,, December 12, 2011;
Prayerful protest marks one year since late-term abortion doctor arrived in Germantown,, December 7, 2011;
• Read more on the Archdiocese of Washington Life Issues Facebook page.


Sanctity of Marriage:
Petition Drive to Preserve Marriage in Maryland
Bishops’ Committee For Defense Of Marriage Disappointed Over DOMA Ruling,, June 1, 2012
Petition drive to bring marriage law to referendum continues in Maryland,, May 4, 2012
U.S. Bishops Applaud Approval Of North Carolina Marriage Amendment In Face Of President Obama’s
   Recent Comments,, May 10, 2012
Statement of the Archdiocese of Washington on President Obama’s Support of Same-Sex Marriage,,
   May 9, 2012
Cardinal Dolan: President Obama's Remarks on Marriage 'Deeply Saddening',, May 9, 2012
Maryland parishes conducting petition drives to bring marriage law to a referendum,, April 25, 2012

Bishop Knestout's letter of March 23, 2012.
States vs. Marriage, National Catholic Register, Feb. 27, 2012
Referendum could dispute Maryland's new same-sex marriage law, National Catholic Reporter, Feb. 27, 2012

Archdiocese, MCC decry Maryland Senate's vote to legalize same-sex marriage, Catholic Standard, Feb. 24, 2012
Maryland Senate Votes to Redefine Marriage,, Feb. 23, 2012
Maryland House Decides to Redefine Marriage,, Feb. 18, 2012

Editorial- "Responding with love to a hate-filled ad", Catholic Standard, May 10, 2012


Priest who denied communion to lesbian no longer with DC archdiocese, Catholic News Agency, July 11, 2012
Priest- removal from ministry was tied to communion incident (Fr. Marcel Guarnizo’s Response),, March 14, 2012
Gaithersburg Priest Defends Decision To Deny Lesbian Communion,, March 14, 2012

Incident at St. John Neumann spurs reflection on significance of Holy Communion, Catholic Standard, Feb. 29, 2012
Editorial- "Honoring the Communion Line", Catholic Standard, Mar. 1, 2012