March and pray with us to stand up for freedom June 23

On Sunday, June 23 from noon to 4 p.m., you are invited to join the Fortnight for Freedom Event for Marriage, Life and Religious Liberty. We will begin with a rosary at noon at the Cathedral High School’s football practice field (corner of 6th Ave. N and 4th St. N in St. Cloud). We will then march to St. Mary’s Cathedral (about a six-block walk).

At 1 p.m., exposition of the Blessed Sacrament will begin with eucharistic adoration, hourly speakers, praying the rosary and divine chaplet. Benediction will be at 4 pm. All are welcome for all or any part of the event.

Why do we need to gather for such an occasion?

Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the USCCB Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, explained, “The need has never been greater. The Fortnight for Freedom exists to meet that need. This year’s Fortnight occurs just weeks before Aug. 1, when the administration’s mandate coercing us to violate our deeply-held beliefs will be enforced against most religious non-profits. During the Fortnight the Supreme Court’s decisions on the definition of marriage will likely be handed down as well. Those decisions could have a profound impact on religious freedom for generations to come.”

Rights targeted

Our freedoms are being whittled away on almost a daily basis and people of faith who speak out against these violations to our First Amendment rights are being targeted. The recent IRS scandal is only one example of this. In our own state, when the impact of the Legislature’s passage of the law redefining marriage takes effect, we will feel more.

While the Minnesota law that is legalizing same-sex “marriage” provided that churches and members of the clergy will not be forced to solemnize these weddings, it did not accommodate for individuals, nonreligious nonprofits, small business owners, religious organizations that receive public funds, and religious associations not directly connected with a church organization or diocese.

We will be seeing in the near future, civil suits — similar to what has happened in other states that have redefined marriage — against business owners forced to provide their services for something that they feel is wrong.

Other laws will need to change, such as we have seen in Iowa, where the birth certificate had to be changed to allow for two persons of the same sex to be listed. And school curriculums will have to be altered to include same-sex marriage as normative.

On the issue of the HHS mandate, Archbishop Charles Chaput shares that while the U.S. Bishop’s have long fought for basic medical care as a matter of social justice and human dignity, the current situation is much different.

Convictions violated

He says, “. . . health care has now morphed into a religious liberty issue provoked entirely — and needlessly — by the current White House. Despite a few small concessions under pressure, the administration refuses to withdraw or reasonably modify a Health and Human Services (HHS) contraceptive mandate that violates the moral and religious convictions of many individuals, private employers and religiously affiliated and inspired organizations. Archbishop Chaput went on to say, “Coupled with the White House’s refusal to uphold the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, and its astonishing disregard for the unique nature of religious freedom . . . the HHS mandate can only be understood as a form of coercion. Access to inexpensive contraception is a problem nowhere in the United States. The mandate is thus an ideological statement; the imposition of a preferential option for infertility. And if millions of Americans disagree with it on principle — too bad.”

As you can see, there is much to pray for. We can make a difference with our prayers and our ability to continue to uphold what is dear and to stand together as a witness of the tenants of our faith.

We can make a difference with keeping our belief in the sacredness of marriage between one man and one woman, the dignity of each human person, from the moment of conception until a natural death.

And we can make a difference by standing up for the freedoms that this country was founded on, and that good men and women fought and died for.

As Archbishop Chaput said, “The day when Americans could take the Founders’ understanding of religious freedom as a given is over. We need to wake up.” Join us June 23.

Chris Codden is director of the Office of Marriage and Family of the Diocese of St. Cloud.