Irondale, AL (EWTN) – EWTN Global Catholic Network, which filed suit against the U.S. Government in February to halt the implementation of the so-called HHS contraception mandate, says the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act in its entirety ensures that the Network and many other entities must continue the battle for religious liberty in this country.
"The decision by the United States Supreme Court to uphold the Affordable Care Act is certainly a disappointment for EWTN," said EWTN President and Chief Executive Officer Michael P. Warsaw. "It was our hope that the Court’s decision would stop the implementation of the HHS mandate that requires employee health plans to provide coverage for morally objectionable services like contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs. Because the Court has upheld the law, the rules which empower the government to issue its unjust mandate appear to remain in effect. As a result, the EWTN lawsuit seeking relief from the mandate will continue to move forward."
EWTN’s lawsuit, which was filed February 9 in U.S. District Court in Birmingham, Alabama against the Department of Health & Human Services, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and other government agencies, not only sought to stop the imposition of the contraception mandate, but asked the court for a declaratory judgment that the mandate was unconstitutional. EWTN was the first Catholic entity to file a lawsuit against the U.S. Government after the final rules were issued. The Attorney General of the State of Alabama filed documents March 22 in U.S. District Court in Birmingham, Alabama joining EWTN as a plaintiff in its lawsuit.
At the time EWTN’s lawsuit was filed, Warsaw said that he took the action to defend not only the Network but other institutions across the country – Catholic and non-Catholic, religious and secular – from having this mandate imposed upon them. The mandate empowers the government to force EWTN and other employers to inform employees about how to get contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs – and later to provide these things to employees for free. If they refuse to do so, for any reason, it further empowers the government to impose crippling fines for refusing.
"The challenges to religious liberty continue every day at the federal, state and local levels,” Warsaw said. “The fight to secure our religious freedoms must continue."
EWTN Global Catholic Network, in its 30th year, is available in over 200 million television households in more than 140 countries and territories. With its direct broadcast satellite television and radio services, AM & FM radio networks, worldwide short-wave radio station, Internet website www.ewtn.com, electronic and print news services, and publishing arm, EWTN is the largest religious media network in the world.
"The decision by the United States Supreme Court to uphold the Affordable Care Act is certainly a disappointment for EWTN. It was our hope that the Court’s decision would stop the implementation of the HHS mandate that requires employee health plans to provide coverage for morally objectionable services like contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs. Because the Court has upheld the law, the rules which empower the government to issue its unjust mandate appear to remain in effect. As a result, the EWTN lawsuit seeking relief from the mandate will continue to move forward."
WASHINGTON—The U.S. bishops launched a text messaging campaign June 21 to provide a new way for people to join the national campaign for religious freedom.
Catholics and supporters of religious freedom from all other faiths around the nation now can send the text message "Freedom" to 377377 to join the movement. Texters can then receive information regularly on how to help protect religious freedom worldwide.
"Across America, our right to live out our faith is being threatened — from Washington's forcing Catholic institutions to provide services that contradict their beliefs, to state governments' prohibiting religious charities from serving the most vulnerable," said Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, the chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty. "We encourage all supporters around the country to text the simple, meaningful word 'Freedom' (for English) or 'Libertad' (for Spanish) to 377377 to join the movement."
The U.S. bishops have issued a call to action to defend religious liberty and urged laity to work to protect the First Freedom of the Bill of Rights. In one major initiative, the Fortnight for Freedom, from June 21 to Independence Day, July 4, dioceses and parishes will commemorate this special two-week period of prayer, study and public action to emphasize both the Christian and American heritage of liberty.
The U.S. bishops plan to communicate with supporters by SMS (short message service) about twice a month. Standard text message and data rates may apply. Reply STOP to opt-out. Reply HELP or contact FREEDOM@USCCB.ORG for help. Bulletin inserts about the texting campaign can be found at http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/fortnight-for-freedom/upload/fortnight-for-freedom-bulletin-insert.pdf (English) or http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/fortnight-for-freedom/upload/fortnight-for-freedom-bulletin-insert-spanish.pdf (Spanish). Visit www.Fortnight4Freedom.org for more details.
Irondale, AL (EWTN) – Religious freedom is under attack – not just overseas, but, most unbelievably, in the United States of America. EWTN was the first to file a lawsuit after the government issued a mandate forcing religious employers to provide coverage for abortion-inducing drugs and more. Now, look to EWTN for coverage of the "Fortnight for Freedom," a call by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops for a 14-day period of prayer, education and action in support of religious freedom, which begins June 21.
EWTN's coverage begins with the Opening Mass celebrated by Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori at 7 p.m. ET, June 21, from the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore. The date was chosen because it is the vigil of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More, two great martyrs of the Faith. This will be followed by a 10 a.m. ET Mass on June 22 celebrated by New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City. The closing Mass – to be celebrated by Cardinal Donal Wuerl of the Archdiocese of Washington and with a homily by Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput – will be televised at 12:10 p.m. ET, July 4, the day that Americans traditionally celebrate their most cherished freedoms. (Note: Dates and times of all programs subject to change. Please check our website to confirm.)
WASHINGTON—Dioceses nationwide will highlight religious liberty during the Fortnight for Freedom, June 21-July 4.
The Fortnight celebration opens with a June 21 Mass at 7 p.m. at Baltimore's Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, celebrated by Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore. A closing Mass will be celebrated July 4, in Washington, at 12:10 p.m. at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington will celebrate the Mass, and Archbishop Charles Chaput, OFM Cap. of Philadelphia, will be homilist. The Mass will be televised nationwide on the EWTN cable network.
A list of diocesan activities can be found at www.fortnight4freedom.org.
Celebrations range from special Masses and Holy Hours for religious liberty to concerts and multi-media presentations, to a Catholic trivia night and distribution of yard signs and car magnets.
The Archdiocese of Washington plans a "prayerful celebration of freedom," June 24 at 4 p.m. at George Washington University's Smith Center, where Cardinal Wuerl will host over 4,000 attendees at a music and video program tracing the history of religious liberty and celebrating the Catholic experience. More information can be found at www.sacredproperty.org.
The Washington Archdiocese also will host a "Be the Conscience!" music festival for young adults featuring Catholic artists on June 23, at 6 p.m. at Fridays Creek Winery, Owings, Maryland. The archdiocese also will provide 10,000 religious liberty car magnets and plans an "I Am Free Because" Twitter campaign. In another effort, the archdiocese has encouraged parishioners to pray a short prayer for religious freedom ("Minute to Win It!") each day at 3 p.m., May 23, just before Pentecost, to November 25, the feast of Christ the King.
A Catholic Trivia Night, on June 25, 7:30 p.m., at Pat Troy's in Old Town in Alexandria will be part of the Diocese of Arlington event. Participants are invited to come in teams or solo but to leave their catechisms home.
In Kansas, the Catholic Bishops have organized a statewide rally for religious freedom, June 29, at 2 p.m. at the State Capitol Building in Topeka. In Wichita, Kansas, Bishop Michael Jackels will lead a rally at the U.S. Courthouse in Wichita on the evening of June 21.
The Archdiocese of Oklahoma City will host an Ecumenical Rally on Religious Freedom, June 23, at 1 p.m., at the Cox Convention Center. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia will host a Religious Liberty Conference, June 23-24, at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary.
In the Diocese of Rochester, New York, St. Mary's Parish in Canandaigua, New York, will host a 14-day Festival for Freedom. Speakers will include Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute and founder of the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast; Father Peter Stravinskas, founder of "The Catholic Response Magazine" and "The Catholic Answer"; Loretta Fleming of the National Committee for a Human Life Amendment; Kathleen Gallagher, director of pro-life activities for the New York State Catholic Conference and director of the Catholic Action Network; Kyle Duncan, General Counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty; and Jonathan Tobin, senior online editor of Commentary magazine.
Several dioceses plan town hall meetings, including the Archdiocese of Boston, June 25, 8 p.m. with Cardinal Sean O'Malley; Diocese of Columbus, Ohio, June 27, 7 p.m. with Bishop Frederick Campbell, Diocese of Covington, Kentucky, June 19, 9 a.m.; Diocese of Dallas, Texas, June 22 at 8:30 a.m. (English), June 24 (Spanish), and June 30 (English); Diocese of Lexington, Kentucky, June 25 at 6:30 p.m., with a prayer service and sharing on state immigration laws, and June 27, at 6:30 p.m., on Catholic foster care and adoption services; and the Diocese of Portland, Maine, June 23 at 7 p.m.
The Diocese of Dallas also will celebrate a Fortnight Mass in Spanish on June 24 at 2:30 p.m., followed by an educational program in Spanish.
The Archdiocese of St. Louis already has launched a six-month campaign for religious liberty, from May 27, the feast of Pentecost, to November 25. Archbishop Robert Carlson will recite a prayer for religious liberty on Covenant Radio every day at 3 p.m. Archbishop Carlson also is encouraging fasting on Fridays for the protection of religious liberty.
The Diocese of Charleston, South Carolina, will have a Eucharistic Procession on June 23 at 9 a.m. led by Bishop Robert Guglielmone. The Archdiocese of Cincinnati will provide one thousand "Preserve Religious Freedom" yard signs.
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