Auxiliary Bishop Eduardo A. Nevares thanked the faithful for standing together and praying for religious freedom during an Independence Day Mass at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral, a celebration that, followed by the Rosary for the United States of America, closed out local observances of the fifth annual national Fortnight for Freedom.
“Last year I spoke about the HHS mandate and the dark clouds that were forming on the horizon, in terms of the federal government imposing its restrictions on the Christian Church, and not just Catholics, and all people of good will,” he said.
“Well, now in the last year, we have seen the ominous clouds becoming reality. Almost every day we see the federal government and the courts lift our religious liberties and freedoms and restrict the practice of our Catholic faith more than ever. More and more, the federal government and courts are entering into moral and faith issues and they alone are overstepping the individual conscience clauses which have always been protected by the constitution.”
The fortnight was established by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, (USCCB) in response to numerous actions taken by the government which interfere or prevent institutions and individuals from acting in accordance with their deeply held moral beliefs.
The annual observance also touches on the heart of what Pope Francis said during his apostolic visit to the U.S. last September, the USCCB said, noting the pope “encouraged us to nurture, promote and defend the precious gift of religious freedom.”
Bishop Nevares mentioned the recent case with the Little Sisters of the Poor and the mandate to them to provide contraceptives and abortifacients to the people they minister to in their care.
“The Little Sisters of the Poor and other Christian health care providers stood up against the government and the supreme court told them to work it out among themselves,” he explained. “They didn’t want to assign the case. So, we will wait and see how it works out.”
Praying for our country on the Fourth of July is important, said Susan Rawls, member of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Glendale.
“We are in danger,” she said. “Our Christian beliefs are being forfeited in many ways in the USA.”
Janette and Fred Rouse, members of Most Holy Trinity Parish, agreed, adding that the country is in dire straits.
“There is so much Christian unrest,” they said. “The Church is under attack and our religious liberty is at stake.”
Following the Mass, Phoenix resident Manny Yrique, who designed the Rosary for the United States of America, spoke before the congregation prayed the Rosary.
“The President of the United States is not preparing our armed forces for battle, but spending money on how to add transgenders into the military and spending lots of money to come up with a title for them,” said Yrique, a St. Theresa parishioner. “If we challenge titles, we are called racist says the enlightened generation.”
Yrique added that many Catholics carry an assault weapon every day, “the Holy Rosary.” He challenged everyone to pray unceasingly to Our Lady and make our plea to Him by participating in a 54-day novena for the election, beginning Sept. 15 of this year.
“If we start to pray on Sept. 15, we will finish on the Monday before the election,” he said. “We can change hearts for God through the Rosary, Mass and Adoration. Try it and you will see the difference.”