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The following excerpt was taken from a column by Father Jason Tyler in Arkansas Catholic, May 12, 2012.

"Some observers have attempted to shift the debate, claiming that this issue only exists because the Church is 'anti-woman.' Sadly, even some Catholics seem to believe that is the case. ... I could spill a lot of ink in explaining how the Church is not 'anti-woman' and never move the minds of those who think that. Thankfully, one of the blessings I've experienced as a priest is that of knowing many Catholic women who embrace the Church's teachings about human life and sexuality wholeheartedly. With those observations in mind, I sought six such Catholic women to write about six different aspects of living out the Church's teaching on the gift of sexuality the transmission of human life."
Read Their Stories

 

Get Text Alerts

The USCCB is mobilizing Catholics and others to join the national effort to defend religious liberty by participating in a text messaging campaign. Text FREEDOM to 377377, or LIBERTAD to 377377 for Spanish, to subscribe and receive information on how to protect religious freedom.The USCCB communicates via text message to subscribers twice a month.

Make Your Voice Heard

Contact your representatives in the Senate and House and ask them to overturn the HHS Rule and support the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act. In addition, contact HHS to demand conscience protection. E-mail them here

Study These Bulletin Inserts

  • May 2012 — "Religious Liberty: The Most Cherished of American Freedoms"
  • June 2012 — "Protecting Consciences: Why Conscience is Important"
  • July 21-22 — "One Flesh" (basic overview of the Church's teaching on sexuality and openness to life)
  • Aug. 4-5 — "Questions Welcome" (Q&A on NFP and contraception)
  • Aug. 18-19 — "In Communion" (affirms desire for love; addresses contraceptive mentality and how it has affected society)
  • September-October — "Prayer and Action are Necessary to Keep our First Freedom First"
  • February-March 2013 — "Pray, Fast, Act"

Protect Religious Liberty

Church Teachings Resources What Can I Do?

On Jan. 20, 2012 a mandate from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reaffirmed a rule that nearly all private health care plans must cover sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs and contraception. The exemption provided for religious employers failed to cover the majority of faith-based organizations, including Catholic hospitals, universities and charities.

In response, U.S. bishops, including Bishop Anthony B. Taylor, disapproved. "There was no conscience protection whatsoever for insurers or individuals with religious or moral objections to being forced to help pay the cost of these abortions and sterilizations. This is a direct attack on religion and our First Amendment rights," said Bishop Taylor in a Jan. 25 letter. Read his letter. The diocese's health care ethicist also wrote about the rule in Arkansas Catholic.

Even though modifications were made by President Barrack Obama on Feb. 10, the rule "still forces (religious employers) to pay for services that violate their religious convictions," according to a USCCB bulletin insert released Feb. 15. See the insert in English or Spanish or read the U.S. bishops' response to learn more.

Since that time, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has devoted its efforts to fighting the mandate, speaking out for religious freedom and communicating the Church's teachings on contraception, sterilization and abortion. In March, the bishops called on all Catholics to pray for the protection of religious freedom and conscience protection.

"We call upon the Catholic faithful, and all people of faith, throughout our country to join us in prayer and penance for our leaders and for the restoration of our first freedom — religious liberty— which is not only protected in the laws and customs of our great nation, but rooted in the teachings of our great Tradition," the bishops said in "United for Religious Freedom" a March 14 statement. "Prayer is the ultimate source of our strength — for without God, we can do nothing; but with God, all things are possible."

On April 12, the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty of the USCCB issued the document, "Our First, Most Cherished Liberty," which detailed the bishops' concerns about threats to religious freedom worldwide and called on all Catholics to take part in the "Fortnight for Freedom," a 14-day period of prayer, education and action in support of religious freedom June 21-July 4.

In response, Respect Life Office for the Diocese of Little Rock mailed 42,000 prayer cards in English and Spanish to parishes to distribute to parishioners to pray for religious freedom. The English cards feature the image of St. Thomas More. The Spanish cards have an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

On May 4, Bishop Taylor asked all parishes to study the bulletin insert, "Religious Liberty: The Most Cherished of American Freedoms," which is available in English or Spanish, throughout the month of May. The document encourages parishioners to write to Congress and HHS opposing the mandate and calling for conscience protections by the deadline of June 19. To send your letters by e-mail, click here.

The bishop also provided homily notes, prayers of the faithful and other prayer resources. He is providing additional bulletin inserts and materials through December 2012. Topics for other months include: June: "Protecting Consciences: Why Conscience is Important"; July-August: Marriage, Sexuality and Openness to New Life; September: Conscience Formation; and December: Current Challenges and Calling the New Congress to Respond.

"Freedom of religion is far more than merely freedom of worship. Religious liberty is the freedom to live according to the dictates of our conscience every hour of every day, and not just one hour on Sunday. The Catholic Church teaches that religious liberty is a basic human right and so civil law must never 'require what conscience forbids or forbid what conscience requires.'"
— Bishop Anthony B. Taylor, Stand Up for Religious Freedom Rally, June 8, 2012. Read more

Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore will celebrate a Mass and Pilgrimage for Life and Liberty on Oct. 14 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. at 11 a.m. After the Mass, he will lead the recitation of the first day of the Rosary Novena for Life and Liberty, which will take place from October 14 to 22, 2012.

USCCB Resources

The following are updated regularly, so please visit these pages often to get the latest information.

The following offers a list of teachings, statements, documents and bulletin inserts. These are available in Spanish when indicated.

Diocese of Little Rock Resources

The following is a list of letters, homilies and articles about threats to religious liberty.

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