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Bishop McManus speaks about religious freedom at Fortnight

Posted By June 23, 2017 | 11:44 am | Featured Article #3
Bishop McManus speaks about religious freedom at Fortnight for Freedom Mass June 22.
Photo by Tanya Connor
Bishop McManus speaks about religious freedom at Fortnight for Freedom Mass June 22. Photo by Tanya Connor

By Tanya Connor | The Catholic Free Press

WORCESTER – The United States has gone from being a country where religion was protected and supported, to one where religion was treated with indifference to one where it is treated with hostility, Bishop McManus said June 22.
He was speaking at the diocesan observance of the Fortnight for Freedom at St. Paul Cathedral.
He celebrated Mass for the Protection of Religious Freedom, where he preached about the topic. A few priests concelebrated, several deacons assisted and more than 70 people attended the Mass, held on the Feast of Saints John Fisher and Thomas More, who have been called patron saints of religious freedom.
Bishop McManus was also this year’s speaker for the reception after the Mass, where he talked about freedom to live one’s faith in the political sphere.
“Freedom for Mission” is the theme of the Fortnight, a nationwide observance held June 21-July 4. The U.S. Catholic bishops initiated it in 2012, in response to the mandate proposed and finalized by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as part of the health care reform law dubbed Obamacare.
The HHS mandate required employers to provide their employees with health insurance coverage that includes abortifacients, contraceptives and sterilization, which the Catholic Church opposes – or face fines.

Diocese of Worcester began observance of the Fortnight for Freedom with Mass, June 22 at St. Paul Cathedral. Photo by Tanya Connor

Diocese of Worcester began observance of the Fortnight for Freedom with Mass, June 22 at St. Paul Cathedral. Photo by Tanya Connor

The Little Sisters of the Poor filed a lawsuit against that, saying they would close their homes for the elderly rather than violate their consciences, Bishop McManus said in his homily. They received relief from a member of the U.S. Supreme Court, but even with President Donald Trump’s recent executive order, relief may be temporary, the bishop said. He spoke of the need to write an exemption into the law.
The tables have turned since the Sisters came to the United States in 1868. After that, their ministry to the poor and elderly became so widely admired that the government gave them the right and money to expand, Bishop McManus said. They were even allowed to beg for support for their apostolate in federal buildings in Washington, D.C.
In his talk after Mass, Bishop McManus spoke about the United States bishops’ document called “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.” He talked about forming one’s conscience according to Church moral and social teachings, especially human dignity and the inviolability of human life. He took issue with politicians not taking a pro-life stand and excluding those who do. He detailed Catholics’ responsibility when voting.
Addressing a listener’s question about people pushing for freedom for physician-assisted suicide, Bishop McManus said human beings do not have complete autonomy.
“We do enjoy autonomy, but our autonomy is seen in relation to the reality of God,” he said.
Addressing a question about what an acceptable religion is and whether there should be freedom for things such as witchcraft, Bishop McManus said the right to freedom of religion cannot undercut dimensions of the common good.