Religious Freedom Week 2020

The Feast of Ss. Thomas More and John Fisher on June 22, 2020 marks the start of Religious Freedom Week, a national call for all Catholics across the United States to pray, reflect and take action in support of Religious Liberty in our country and abroad.

It is appropriate that the week begins on such a day, as Sts. Thomas More and John Fisher are remembered for being martyred in 1535 for standing up for the Sanctity of Marriage and the Freedom of the Church in opposition to England’s King Henry VIII.

Continuing through the Solemnity of Sts. Peter & Paul the Apostles on June 29, 2020, Religious Freedom Week is a call by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to unite Catholics across the country to pray, reflect and take action on religious liberty, both here in this country and abroad. The theme for Religious Freedom Week 2020 is “For the Good of All.”

Religious Freedom was founded to allow people of Faith to serve others in God’s love through ministries like education, adoption and foster care, health care, as well as migration and refugee services.

During the week, the USCCB encourages the faithful to reflect upon the importance of religious freedom so that we can carry out our mission of service and mercy. Everyone is invited to pray for our brothers and sisters who face intense persecution in other parts of the world.

Throughout the Religious Freedom Week, we are called to follow Christ as missionary disciples by seeking the truth, serving others, and living our Faith in all that we do. A number of resources, including daily prayers, reflections as well as action items related to issues in the U.S. and abroad, can be found at the USCCB website at

In Catholic teaching, the Second Vatican Council declared in Dignitatis Humanae, No. 2, that the human person has a right to religious freedom. This freedom means all men/women are immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power. In such ways that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his/her own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits.

Religious Liberty is protected in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as well as in federal and state laws and reaches beyond our ability to go to Mass on Sunday or pray the rosary at home; it also encompasses our ability to contribute freely to the common good of all Americans.

To stay up-to-date on current religious freedom issues, sign up for text messages from the USCCB. It’s easy. Just text the word “FREEDOM” or “LIBERTAD” to 84576.

Naples Knights take action

Staff Report


The Knights of Columbus is a group which serves to help defend the faith and supports the Catholic Church in a variety of ways.

The Knights from Assembly 3094 and Council 14202 of St. Agnes Parish in Naples recently expressed their frustration by sending an open letter to their U.S. Congressional delegation including U.S. Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, as well as U.S. Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Francis Rooney

In the letter, which appeared in the Naples Daily News, they specifically address derogatory remarks against the Knights by three U.S. Senators Mazie Hirona, Hawaii; and Kamala Harris and Diana Feinstein, both of California. The Senators bashed Federal Judicial nominees because they are members of the Knights of Columbus, because the Senators claimed the Knights of Columbus hold extreme positions, particularly on same sex marriage and abortion.

The letter states that: “By condemning the Knights as holding extreme positions and by denigrating the moral teachings of the Catholic Church, these three Senators are attempting to ban members of the Knights from holding public office. They went on to establish a religious test for public office holders, a contravention of Constitutional guarantees.”

The letter goes on to state that the members of the Knights of St. Agnes Parish chose the forum of an open letter so as to inform the Congressional Delegation and their fellow citizens of the Knights’ unequivocal support of the moral teaching of the Catholic Church on the matter of abortion and same sex marriage. They also condemned the recent enactment of a New York law allowing an abortion of a fetus up until the time of birth.

Knight Greg Russo shared the letter with the Naples Daily News and expressed his desire that, on behalf of the 400 members of the Knights St. Agnes Assembly and Council, and the thousands of Knights across Southwest Florida, that the Congressional Delegation condemn the vicious and unwarranted attacks on members of the Knights and moral teachings of the Catholic Church.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane, who was copied on the letter, said he stands with all Knights in highlighting and speaking out and against these attacks.

“The Knights of Columbus have a strong history of defending the moral teachings of the Church,” Bishop Dewane said. “As a Knight, I support this letter and strongly encourage others to speak out against this and other attacks against the Church. If these attacks go uncontested, they threaten to tear down the Religious Freedom upon which this nation was founded.”

Religious Freedom Film Festival spans generations

Susan Laielli – Florida Catholic

Venice – The Diocese of Venice Youth and Young Adult groups accepted the challenge of creating films with a Religious Freedom theme during the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) designated Religious Freedom Week, June 22-29.

These are some of the people who attended the Diocese of Venice Religious Freedom Film Festival June 27 at St. Agnes Parish in Naples.

In all, six films were submitted to the Diocese of Venice 14-Day Film Festival by Diocesan youth and young adults, who had from June 7-21 to produce films that could be up to up to 10 minutes long. The films were featured at three Diocesan showcases: June 26, Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School, Sarasota; June 27, St. Agnes Parish Hall, Naples; and June 28, Our Lady of Light Parish Hall, Fort Myers.  Electronic voting for each film was open through July 6.

Films were submitted by Youth and Young Adult groups from St. Joseph’s Parish in Bradenton, Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Lakewood Ranch, St. Agnes Parish in Naples, St. Peter the Apostle Parish in Naples, St. Leo the Great Parish in Bonita Springs, and St. Raphael Parish in Lehigh Acres.

These are some of the people who attended the Diocese of Venice Religious Freedom Film Festival June 28 at Our Lady of Light Parish in Fort Myers.

“Our youth worked with our young adults to learn about video production and editing, as well as on the topic research,” said Theresa Barbale, Director of Youth and Young Adult at St. Peter the Apostle in Naples.  “It was good for those with experience to teach the younger kids.”

Attendees at St. Agnes Catholic Parish spanned multiple generations, and expressed joy that the middle school aged children are learning about Religious Freedoms, and the subtle infringements on those liberties.

At each of the events, the co-producers of a soon-to be released documentary on Christian persecution, Patrick Carberry and Jordan Allott, presented newly gathered footage and discussed what they learned from Christians in small villages that were decimated by ISIS, or other extremists. The film, “Christians in the Mirror,” is produced by In Altum Productions, and is set for release in August.