Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Despite continued criticism from Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, and Jewish leaders, as well as several state attorneys general, the HHS mandate has not been repealed. Add to that the enormous outcry from the public, and an important question remains: will there be an actual compromise, as was promised, or will the critical moral objections to the mandate and so-called â€śaccommodationâ€ť be disregarded? Further, itâ€™s not clear how a compromise would resolve the fundamentally flawed mandate, which violates the rights of religious liberty and freedom of conscience. The only complete solution would seem to be to rescind the mandate.
The profound encouragement I as your Bishop have received from you, the faithful, over the past month has been deeply appreciated and a blessing. But now is the time for action! Now is the time for you, the lay faithful, to come forward and to be counted as part of the solution. You are likely hearing commentary about how the Catholic faithful are not in union with the Bishops on this issue. I, for one, have experienced quite the opposite.
There is an opportunity for Catholics and all people of good will to witness to our rights and liberties, and to state publicly the importance of religious freedom. On Friday, March 23 from 12 p.m. till 1 p.m., a religious freedom rally will be held on Bayfront Drive off US 41 in Sarasota, at the foot of the John Ringling Causeway near the Statue. This is an opportunity for the laity to show their support for religious freedom. Our God-given rights and liberties are being attacked, and it will take the actions and sacrifice of us all to overcome such an assault.
To be kept up-to-date on news related to this mandate and similar issues, please email email@example.com and you will be added to the Diocesan email list. Updates will also be posted to Facebook.com/DioceseofVenice.
No matter what happens regarding this mandate, please remain rooted in the grace given by Our Lord Jesus Christ. As it is with any form of adversity or persecution, it is through Christ that we find hope. In this Lenten Season, we all called to sacrifice, and in so doing we will grow closer to Our Lord.
I take this opportunity to extend to all of you my continued consideration and prayers. United in prayer and in confidence in God’s goodness, I remain
Sincerely yours in Christ,
+ Frank J. Dewane
Bishop of the Diocese of
Venice in Florida