Reflecting on Religious Freedom Print this post

Staff Report (Florida Catholic)

7/14/17

For one evening the faithful gathered to reflect and learn about the realities of religious freedom at home and abroad. The Diocese of Venice sponsored a Fortnight for Freedom Prayer and Film Night, hosted by Bishop Frank J. Dewane, on July 28 at St. Leo the Great Parish in Bonita Springs.

Logo for the 2017 Fortnight for Freedom

During the evening attendees – more than 100, including a number of seminarians – heard from Bishop Dewane who stressed the need to stay vigilant for any efforts, either locally or nationally, to attempt to strip away the freedom of religion we cherish in this nation. “The challenge is to realize when religious freedom is under attack because it can often be in a subtle way; and before we know it, our freedoms are gone.”

bishop Frank J. Dewane speaks during the Diocesan Fortnight for Freedom gathering on July 28 at St. Leo the Great Parish in Bonita Springs.

The guest speaker, Ave Maria School of Law Associate Professor Tim Tracey, spoke about what religious freedom is and how it faces challenges every day, even though it is clearly called for in the U.S. Constitution.

Ave Maria School of Law Associate Professor Tim Tracey speaks during a Fortnight for Freedom gathering on July 28 at St. Leo the Great Parish in Bonita Springs.

There was also a presentation of three selections from the first ever Diocese of Venice Film Festival, which encouraged youth groups to submit a video about religious freedom. In the videos, the youth groups from St. Raphael Parish in Lehigh Acres and St. Agnes Parish in Naples offered their unique perspective on religious freedom. The videos showed a deep understanding of the threats to religious freedom and the potential consequences if nothing is done to defend these freedoms before it is too late.

Poster promoting “Our Last Stand” a documentary about the plight of Christians in Syria and Iraq which was presented during the Diocese of Venice Fortnight for Freedom gathering on July 28 at St. Leo the Great Parish in Bonita Springs.

One of the most poignant parts of the evening included a screening of the powerful documentary “Our Last Stand.” The film by Jordan Allott, follows the journey of an Assyrian-American school teacher from New York who spends her summer vacation traveling to Iraq and Syria to help raise awareness about the plight of the Christian communities (Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac) threatened by civil war and ISIS.

“The (Our Last Stand) shows how easily we could lose our freedoms on short notice.  The Fortnight for Freedom is educating Catholics across our country on the attacks on religious liberty here at home,” said Dan Dougherty of Fort Myers.

The Bonita Springs event coincided with the 2017 Fortnight for Freedom (June 24-July 4) during which the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops encourages the faithful to reinforce their commitment to prayer, to study the Church’s teaching, and to participate in peaceful public action during the Fortnight in defense of Religious Freedom. The Fortnight was initially created to raise awareness in the United States following the HHS mandate which impacted Religious Freedom. The dates selected by the USCCB coincide with the feast days of St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher and conclude on July 4, the dates of the signing of the Declaration Independence which set forth many of the freedoms Americans enjoy to this day.

Print this entry