The Catholic News Agency reports May 24 that a new organization, the Catholic Association, has been formed to organize among Roman Catholics for religious freedom, and will focus current activities on the Fortnight for Freedom, 2012:
.- As concerns over threats to religious liberty continue to mount, a growing Catholic organization aims to help lay men and women take action to protect conscience rights and religious freedom.
Maureen Ferguson, senior policy adviser for the newly launched Catholic Association, said the group serves as both “a voice for Catholics in the public square” and a way to educate Catholics on important issues.
Ferguson told CNA on May 23 that the association is currently focused on the defense of conscience rights, which she believes are currently facing serious threats in America.
Chief among those threats is a federal mandate issued by the Obama administration to force employers to offer health insurance plans that cover contraception, sterilization and abortion-causing drugs, even if doing so violates their consciences.
The mandate has been widely criticized by individuals and groups across the U.S., including bishops from every diocese in the country, who warned that it threatens religious freedom and could force Catholic hospitals, schools and charitable organizations to shut down.
Ferguson cautioned that the mandate will affect all Americans because the Church is the biggest non-government provider of education, health care and social services.
In discussing the mandate, the U.S. bishops “have repeatedly called on lay Catholics to step up to the plate” and work to defend freedom of conscience, she said.
The Catholic Association is trying to respond to bishops’ call by helping the lay faithful to speak out and act in support of religious liberty.
The organization is currently “preparing a campaign” to support the “Fortnight for Freedom” called for by the U.S. bishops from June 21 to July 4 in response to the current threats to religious liberty.
The bishops called for this initiative in an Apri1 12 statement, and encouraged all men of good will to join the in the effort. “This is not a Catholic issue. This is not a Jewish issue. This is not an Orthodox, Mormon, or Muslim issue. It is an American issue,” they said.
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