An initiative of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops


9/20/13 USCCB News Release: USCCB Chairmen applaud introduction of the "Marriage and Religious Freedom Act"

Posted Sep. 23, 2013 by Marriage Unique for a Reason 1 comment

WASHINGTON—Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, and Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, gave their strong support for the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act (H.R. 3133) introduced yesterday in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Raúl Labrador.

“This non-discrimination bill is significant, indeed, very important,” said Archbishop Cordileone.  “It would prevent the federal government from discriminating against religious believers who hold to the principle that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. This is of fundamental importance, as increasingly such individuals and organizations are being targeted for discrimination by state governments – this must not spread to the federal government.”

For the full text of the press release, visit here.
For the Chairmen’s Letter of Support to Representative Labrador, see here (Sept. 20, 2013).



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

Posted Aug. 29, 2013 by Marriage Unique for a Reason No comments yet

Click here for printable version.

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.



Friday Fast: Pray for religious freedom, and the courage to live our faith at all times

Posted May. 17, 2013 by Marriage Unique for a Reason 1 comment

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Intention: As we approach the feast of Pentecost, we pray for the Church and that our faith might not be simply a private matter, but rather that the Holy Spirit will help us witness to Christ in all areas of our lives.

Reflection: As faithful Catholics, the beliefs that we profess in Church on Sunday carry over into our personal and professional lives. Christ invites us into loving relationship with Him, and His love infuses our actions, helping us to love Him in return by following His commandments in our daily lives. However, the proposed HHS “contraceptive mandate,”  in effect, attempts to restrict the practice of our faith to the private sphere. As explained by the USCCB general counsel, the mandate’s current definition of “religious employer” (a definition used to determine which employers are exempted from the mandate) excludes “a wide array of employers that are undeniably religious,” including organizations that “contribute most visibly to the common good through the provision of health, educational, and social services,” such as Catholic schools and hospitals. Telling faith-based organizations that they are not “religious enough” to qualify for an exemption to the contraceptive mandate is a violation of religious freedom.

As we approach the feast of Pentecost, let us ardently pray to Christ to send forth His Spirit so that we will be filled with His peace and strength to live our faith at all times.

Did you know? “This year’s Fortnight [for Freedom] occurs just weeks before August 1, when the administration’s mandate coercing us to violate our deeply-held beliefs will be enforced against most religious non-profits. During the Fortnight the Supreme Court’s decisions on the definition of marriage will likely be handed down as well. Those decisions could have a profound impact on religious freedom for generations to come.” Archbishop William E. Lori, News Release (May 13, 2013)



Friday Fast: Pray to protect conscience rights for health care workers

Posted Apr. 19, 2013 by Marriage Unique for a Reason No comments yet

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This week’s intention: For the approval of laws which will protect health care professionals from being forced to violate their consciences.

Reflection: In today’s first reading from Acts 9:1-20, we are reminded again of Saul’s fervent persecution of the early Christians, those disciples of the Lord “who belonged to the Way.”  While Saul’s persecutions occurred over 2,000 years ago, the persecution of Christians occurs even today.  Currently, government agencies are trying to coerce many Christians, including devout Catholics, into violating their consciences.  But it is important to remember that we are not alone.  Earlier this spring, Rep. Diane Black and other members of Congress introduced H.R. 940, the Health Care Conscience Rights Act.  A press conference gave many medical professionals the chance to tell their personal stories of persecution or attempts to force them to violate their consciences.

Please join with us in prayer today, especially in union with the early Christians, for health care professionals who are being or who have already been coerced into violating their consciences.  We pray for their fortitude and ask that they are blessed with the knowledge that they are not alone in this fight.

Did you know? There are now 127 House co-sponsors of the Health Care Conscience Rights Act. Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, Chairman of the USCCB’s Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, welcomed the bill’s introduction:

“While federal laws are on the books protecting conscience rights in health care, this Act would make such protection truly effective.  This overdue measure is especially needed in light of new challenges to conscience rights arising from the federal health care reform act.”

For more information, see Archbishop Lori’s letter on the importance of conscience rights.



Archbishop Lori: Life, Marriage and Religious Liberty (homily)

Posted Oct. 20, 2012 by Marriage Unique for a Reason No comments yet

This past Sunday October 14, Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore gave the homily at a mass for Life and Liberty at the National Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC. Archbishop Lori, the chairman of the USCCB Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, addressed an overflowing crowd with powerful words about the gift of life and the importance of religious liberty, our first freedom.

In his homily, the Archbishop made the connection between protecting life and defending marriage. Noting that since the passage of Roe v. Wade in 1973, “over 50 million unborn children have lost their lives through abortion,” he remarked, “Human life is further undermined by the dismantling of the most fundamental unit of society, the family, by seeking to upend marriage as a God-given institution that is unique for a reason, namely, as a relationship of love between one man and one woman.”

Archbishop Lori also drew connections between religious liberty and marriage. He spoke at length about a current severe threat to religious liberty, the so-called “contraceptive mandate” issued by the Department of Health and Human Services, which the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty has fought tirelessly. He then said, “Indeed, many of the secularist threats to religious liberty seem to hinge on the Church’s teaching with regard to the sanctity of human life – whether it’s the Church’s teaching on the immorality of abortion, or the obligation of couples to be open to the gift of new life, or marriage as between one man and one woman, the unique relationship that begets new human life and is meant to be the matrix in which it is nurtured.

For more on the connection between marriage and religious liberty, go to the Religious Liberty FAQs for more information.

Read Archbishop Lori’s entire homily.

Watch a recording of the entire mass on EWTN.