Los Angeles archbishop Jose Gomez wrote the following June 21 posting on the First Things website. 

On June 21, the night before the Catholic Church traditionally remembers the martyrdom of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More at the hands of King Henry VIII, American Catholics will begin a unique two-week vigil of prayer, sacrifice, and public witness for the cause of religious liberty.

The Fortnight for Freedom was called by my brothers in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and it will conclude with the ringing of bells in churches all across the country on July 4, the memorial of our country’s independence. The bishops aren’t comparing the conditions of the American church in the early 21st century with that of Catholics persecuted during the English Reformation. We’re blessed in our country with a religious liberty that, sadly, most people in the world today do not enjoy. According to the Pew Center, three out of four people worldwide live in a country where the government doesn’t protect their right to worship and serve the God they believe in.

This global context puts the Catholic Church’s current conflict with the U.S. government in some perspective. But just because believers today aren’t executed for their beliefs and are free to go to church on Sundays, that doesn’t mean freedom of religion isn’t in jeopardy in America.

For our country’s founders—and for every American generation until now—freedom of religion has meant much more than the freedom to worship. Freedom of religion has meant the freedom to establish institutions to help us live out our faith and carry out our religious duties. Freedom of religion has meant the freedom to express our faith and values in political debates—and the freedom to try to persuade others to share our convictions.

In recent years, many have observed that our American consensus on religious liberty, conscience protection, and religion’s public role has been eroding. There are many causes for this. The first is the reality of religious indifferentism or “practical atheism”—the fact that growing numbers of people in our society are living as if God doesn’t exist or doesn’t matter. There’s no reason to care about religious freedom if you don’t care about being religious.

But our freedoms are also being eroded as the result of constant agitation from de-Christianizing and secularizing elements in American society. In the public arena, we’ve seen relentless efforts to get Church agencies to go along with secular agendas that violate Catholic beliefs—from trying to force Catholic hospitals to perform abortions and sterilizations, to trying to coerce Catholic adoption agencies to place children with homosexual couples.

In our wider culture, Christian faith and values are increasingly portrayed—in the media, in the courts, even in comments from high government officials—as a form of bigotry. In our diverse, pluralistic society, it seems sometimes that Christianity is becoming the one lifestyle that can’t be tolerated to have a role in public life.

These same secularizing and de-Christianizing forces are at work in our current conflict with the federal government’s health insurance mandates. No one can credibly claim that this conflict with the government is about access to abortion and birth control, because unfortunately, both are widely available and affordable to anyone who wants them in this country, often subsidized by federal and state governments.

It’s hard to escape the conclusion that our present conflict is part of a larger cultural struggle to redefine America as a purely secular society—a society in which religious institutions have no legitimate public role unless they are serving the government’s purposes.

This struggle to secularize America has been going on for a long time. What’s new is that our government, which is entrusted with the duty to protect religious liberty, has now taken sides against the liberty of the nation’s largest religious community. In this present conflict, our government is using the full weight of its powers to try to dictate the terms under which the Catholic Church and individual Catholics will be permitted to participate in our society. For perhaps the first time in our history, our government is acting as if our human rights don’t come from the hand of God, but are instead “benefits” that the government can bestow, define, and take away.

I’ve had well-meaning people ask me: Why has this conflict become so important to the Church? Why won’t we just “compromise” and provide birth-control insurance to our employees? They want me to know that this would be a small price to pay for the greater good of the Church being able to keep serving the poor in her hospitals, schools, and charities.

I agree that this has been a needless and unprovoked distraction for the Church. Catholic institutions have been forced at many levels to divert time, energy, and resources better spent serving the poor to defending ourselves against this unwarranted threat to our freedom from our own government.

But the Church doesn’t serve the poor to please the government. We serve the poor because we are compelled by the love of Christ. This same love for Christ compels us to bear witness that life, marriage, and family are sacred and that preventing children from being born is immoral. So the “compromise” we’re being offered is no compromise at all. It’s capitulation. It’s the temptation to serve the government instead of God.

To read original story, Click here.



Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 12:10 AM By Dan

Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 3:40 AM By Thomas Edward Miles
I now understand, “lets not make a MOUNTAIN out of a MOLE HILL!!” The Bishops are NO, Thomas More or John Fisher, that’s for sure!!! However, the chopping block is looking good!!!!

Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 4:49 AM By MAX
In addition to praying this 4th of July, read the US Constitutution and urge others to do so. You will be surprised at how many times OBAMA has VIOLATED his OATH of OFFICE to uphold the Constitution. These are only two – “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; ” AND ” all legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives (meaning that the Obama Administration can not make up its own laws).

Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 7:20 AM By MacDonald
“But the Church doesn’t serve the poor to please the government. We serve the poor because we are compelled by the love of Christ.” LOVE IT! This reminds me of a speaker at the Anaheim Religious Ed Congress years ago who asked the huge crowd: who helps the poor because it makes them feel good, and then, who helps the poor because God says to? She said, “I’m with the SECOND group!” It’s not about feeling good or virtuous or showing off, it’s about obeying the commandments of the Almighty, which including helping the needy. Or else. (“Whatever you NEGLECTED to do for these of these…”)

Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 7:55 AM By Camille
Religious liberty is a wonderful but nebulous goal to seek. A more concrete concern at present is the possible state authorization to expand the workforce by licensing midwives to kill babies, SB 623, Abortion, formerly SB 1338, is fast approaching a final vote in Sacramento. Be a Thomas More, stand up and declare you will not support this attack on Christian values.

Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 7:56 AM By Catherine
Archbishop Gomez wrote, “I’ve had well-meaning people ask me: Why has this conflict become so important to the Church? Why won’t we just “compromise” and provide birth control to our employees?” I would like to ask Archbishop Gomez if these well-meaning people are our own un-catechized fellow Catholics or even possibly other lead shepherds? Archbishop Gomez states that this attack on the Church is a “needless and unprovoked distraction for the Church” How can this battle be referred to as a needless unprovoked distraction? How can you win the battle if you keep ignoring the root cause? This latest attack is a well deserved punishment and a much needed wake up call for years of disobedience. Laity as well as clergy have been rebelling against, ignoring or trying to dismantle Church teaching. Our Catholic Institutions should be using their time, energy and resources to take care of the poorest of the poor, The SPIRITUALLY NEGLECTED. You DO provoke and invite the onslaught of secularism when you fail to defend and uphold all Church teaching. This battle has absolutely been provoked for years by the combination of disobedience and spiritual neglect. Our lead shepherds do have authority to enforce Canon 915. Our lead shepherds do have the authority to monitor what is taught in our Catholic Universities, Colleges, grade schools and other Catholic Institutions. Many of our own Catholics such as Kathleen Sebelius have from within provoked this battle while still receiving Holy Communion and calling themselves a Catholic in good standing. That was not a distraction. That was another in your face rejection of our Catholic Faith. Our bishops cannot just rely on the faithful for the Fortnight for Freedom. Our bishops have to courageously and charitably love the likes of Kathleen Sebelius just as much as the poor. After all even Jesus said, “The poor you will always have with you; but me you have not always.” Matthew 26:11 Douay- Rheims Catholic Bible

Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 8:03 AM By Rick DeLano
“So the ‘compromise’ we’re being offered is no compromise at all. It’s capitulation. It’s the temptation to serve the government instead of God.” Bravo, Your Excellency. The lines are, at long last, being clearly drawn. That’s the good news. The bad news is that this is now a fight, and fights require a strategy for victory, and a willingness to remove those within one’s own ranks who are committed partisans of the opposition. Canon 915.

Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 8:11 AM By Cole Thornton
On the previous Friday before this posting Bishop Gomez was in bed with Obama all excited over the lawless ruling concerning immigration and those under 30 here illegally. In this posting, with no mention of the word Obama, he goes after the “U.S. government”. When satan tempted Jesus I remember Jesus telling satan to be gone and get lost, not “maybe we can work next week on health care”, or “maybe we can partner next month on immigration”, or “fill in the blanks”. Reading Gomez comments is like watching a ping pong match.

Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 8:16 AM By MD
What a great article. I think the bishops have done a good job thus far at defending the freedom of our faith, but I have not seen it trickle down to the parish level enough. Every Mass should be educating the faithful about what is going on, that this is not a fight about contraception, but about the ability to serve God according to His Divine Law. Even if Obama Care is struck down this week, which I pray it is, our struggle with the government has just begun as it is very clear that they are on the offensive to secularize America more than it is already. The problem is, we have allowed it to become a secular society and are now reaping what we sewed. I am glad we are beginning to wake up now. There is great hope and our bishops have shown us this hope if we heed their call to prayer, fasting, sacrifice and education. God Love You.

Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 10:20 AM By JLS
If we have ostriches instead of bishops, then how has this come about?

Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 10:27 AM By Ray
7:56 AM By Catherine. Catherine said it so right.

Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 12:48 PM By Ted
As long as he allows open dissenters at his Religious Ed conference, he has no credibility whatsoever on any subject. He’s the same as Mahony, two sides of the same counterfeit coin.

Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 1:49 PM By JLS
MD, I’ve heard the same tune, “beginning to wake up”, now for over thirty years … must be a very long dawn, or is it still twilight time?

Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 1:52 PM By Bob One
Ted, please list the dissenters and what they have said that makes them dissenters. Thanks.

Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 2:56 PM By Kenneth M. Fisher
Ted, 12:48 PM, As the leader of the opposition to the Religious Dis-Education Congress, I can’t agree that he has no credibility. His credibility is limited by his derelictions, but not non-existent. God bless, yours in Their Hearts, Kenneth M. Fisher

Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 3:07 PM By lula
The condition we find ourselves in right now is the result of the prolonged practice of Satanic Sympathy = feeding evil by reason of doing Christian Charity. Charity demands understanding and clarity of thinking so that the recipient of it will learn to see the love of God and His Justice that after one ahs received the help, then, one must go ahead to do the right thing ~ how to feed oneself and solves one’s own problems. Helping someone out in an emergency, but not his/her poverty. it is not a sin to be poor, if one choices to stay there, its his/her choice. No one should be responsible for someone else’ choice. No one can eats for anyone else; let each gathers his/her own food for his/her mouth. We will take care of the young, the sick, the elderly and the inferred, but never the able bodies ~ even the animals know how to feed themselves, so they don’t perish! What we have encouraged is “Slothfulness” to too many for too long! time to do it right ” as ye saw so shall ye reap (eat).”

Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 8:11 PM By max
wow! people calling an opus dei priest or in this case archbihswop a LIBERAL and a DISSENTER is something i never thought i’d see in my lifetime…

Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 9:28 PM By JLS
Yes, Jesus fed 5000, and He did it in less than one day. He spent another three and a half years, or about 1260 days (less a few more for more such feedings maybe) preaching and teaching the Word. In fact He fed the thousands specifically so He could teach them. It sure does not seem to be the way the Church works it today … rather they simply feed them and then tell them all is well no matter what they choose to do.

Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 11:57 PM By Carolyn
Psalm 10B. Rise up, Lord God! Raise your arm! Do not forget the poor!

Posted Tuesday, June 26, 2012 1:05 AM By Denise Riggio
“The days of America are numbered.” John Anthony Hardon S.J. Servant of God When I heard him say this to a group of catechists that Fr. trained and founded of which I am a member, I honestly didn’t realize his prediction would occur in my lifetime.