An initiative of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Friday Fast: Pray and fast for fair treatment for houses of worship damaged in natural disasters

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Intention: For those who provide aid in times of tragedy – that they may help all those in need, regardless of their religious beliefs.

Reflection: The months of June to November are fraught with peril for those who fear the devastating effects of hurricanes. Just last year, Hurricane Sandy left in its wake damages totaling over $68 billion in 24 states.

Without reservation, we offer our hearts and prayers to those who suffer from natural disasters. Hurricane Sandy destroyed homes and lives. The storm damaged every type of building, regardless of the building’s purpose. Unfortunately, adding insult to injury, in Sandy’s aftermath, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which provides financial assistance to a wide array of nonprofit institutions, has excluded aid for houses of worship. This discrimination against religious institutions stems from a flawed interpretation of the separation of church and state.

Today, let us not only pray for the safety of all who are facing threats from natural disasters but also for those who provide aid in times of tragedy – that they may help all those in need, regardless of their religious beliefs.

Did you know? On July 29, Archbishop William Lori, Archbishop of Baltimore, and Bishop Denis Madden, auxiliary bishop of Baltimore and chairman of the USCCB Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, hailed the introduction of a Senate bill, S. 1274, the Federal Disaster Assistance Nonprofit Fairness Act of 2013. This bill would ensure fair and equal treatment for houses of worship damaged in natural disasters by enabling them to receive aid from FEMA.

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