June 3, 2012
My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I come to you, once again, regarding the U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate. As you recall, despite religious and moral objections, the mandate still requires all employers to provide, through their health insurance plans, abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization and contraceptives. Unfortunately, the government has continued to defend this egregious violation of religious liberty, despite the outrage of Catholics, Protestants, Jews and other people of good will.
Most recently, 12 lawsuits were filed by 43 Catholic institutions from around the country stating that this radical, unprecedented infringement on religious liberty will not be accepted. After all, this great nation was founded upon religious liberty and freedom of conscience, not government intrusion. The government has overstepped its role by forcing upon the Church a strangling definition of what makes an institution â€śreligiousâ€ť enough. Members of the Catholic Church are being treated like second-class citizens with second-class rights. Nobody should be forced to violate their deepest moral or religious convictions!
First and foremost, as your Bishop, I ask that you continue to pray and fast so that policymakers who have influence over the mandate will have a change of heart. These prayers must also be turned to action. This past Sunday, Pentecost Sunday, reminds us that the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles and strengthened them in Christ. As Scripture states, many of those Apostles were later martyred. While possibly not called to be martyrs, we are called to be doers and defenders of the Faith. Let us send the message, loud and clear, that the Church will neither tolerate government intrusion nor will it be coerced into a political agenda!
Now is the time for action! Two rallies for religious freedom, as part of a nation-wide effort, will be held in the Diocese of Venice, both on Friday, June 8 at 12:00 noon. One is being held in Sarasota at the corner of U.S. 41 and the John Ringling Causeway, and the other in Naples at the corner of Pine Ridge Road and Highway 41. Having spoken at the March Rally in Sarasota, I will be speaking at the Naples Rally. It would be good to see you there. If Naples is too far, go to Sarasota, where a priest will speak on my behalf.
It was inspiring to hear of the positive response from the reading of my first letter to you on the issue of religious freedom. Your presence is needed now! And your voice must be heard! It is time for action! My brothers and sisters in Christ, let us be united. If we do not act, this intrusion into our basic rights and freedoms will go unchecked, and who knows what might be next.
This opportunity is taken to extend to all of you my continued consideration and prayers.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
+ Frank J. Dewane
Bishop of the Diocese of
Venice in Florida