A ‘Fortnight’ for the Bishops and the Freedom of the Spirit

In kicking off their unusual ‘Fortnight for Freedom’ campaign, the US bishops demand Catholics to help “save” religious liberty in America.

Multiple bishops, the USCCB, and the as-of-yet unannounced funders of this campaign speak of the immense persecution the US government continues to inflict upon our Catholic consciences. Rallying around religious freedom’s seeming death is what is required of us if we are going to stem the anti-liberty tide triggered by the oppressive Obama administration.

Yet, I cannot help but see this as the hijacking by very conservative elements of the Church of the tremendous Catholic unity early on before the HHS mandate revisions. I acknowledge now this is merely the actions of singularly-focused anti-abortion interests in American Catholicism who are waging a war not forsomething as sacrosanct as religious freedom, but againstcontraception use generally and against Obama’s reelection in November.

I cannot help but question why now, in an intensely partisan political climate, with money from undisclosed interests and for a cause so ambiguously defined and so easily co-opted as anti-Obama, anti-Democrat, and anti-progressive generally. The full court press in the media, making the US bishops some of the closest friends on Fox, and against the media who dare question the wisdom, policies, or authority of the bishops, seems unprecedented.

In all of this, I cannot help but perceive the immense hollowness inherent in the bishops’ messaging.

The HHS mandate debate is a simple civics exercise of the longstanding discourse between religious institutions and the government in this nation. It can hardly be considered an attack or persecution and in due time a compromise will flesh itself out between vested interests, as Americans have done for centuries now.

But given we’re called to reflect on religious freedom these next two weeks I have suggestions for our reflections. During the ‘Fortnight for Freedom,’ I will post here on concerns over real religious liberty – both the failings of US Catholics and the present challenges worldwide that truly require our attention, prayers, and action. I will also post on freedom – the lack of freedom the episcopacy demands of Catholics lately and the need for conscience to reassume practical supremacy in our Church.

Trusting in the Spirit’s graces, we know She works through the broken and disordered – and it is my firm hope that though the ‘Fortnight’ itself is both broken and disordered, Catholics may come to understand religious liberty and the role of freedom in faith and the world more broadly and more deeply.

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