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On the Journey - Fr. Dennis G. Lewandowski

Each year, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops reminds us the importance of defending our religious freedom. From June 21st to July 4th Catholics are called to take part in the Fortnight for Freedom. Resources on How to Talk About Religious Freedom are available online at www.usccb.org where you can also find ways to get involved.

The U.S. Bishops encourage all citizens to keep in mind that "if religious liberty is not respected, all people suffer and are deprived of the essential contribution to the common good, be it in education, health care, feeding the hungry, civil rights, and social services that the Church and other people of faith make every day, both here at home and overseas".

"Religion cannot be relegated to the inner sanctum of personal life, without influence on societal and national life". -Pope Francis, Evangelii Gudiium, 183

Below are a few excerpts from the Religious Freedom guide which you can download from: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/how-to-talk-about-religious-freedom.cfm

"Many religious freedom skeptics have plausible concerns. For example, they are concerned that all people should be treated with equal dignity. Indeed, the dignity of all people is the foundation for Catholic teaching on religious liberty. It is important that we not dismiss skeptics, but rather, that we listen to their concerns and take them seriously".

"Religious freedom is a fundamental right. It means that the government cannot coerce people into acting against their consciences".

"People of faith need religious freedom to have the space to serve others. Oftentimes, religious liberty disputes arise when religious organizations are expected to sacrifice aspects of their faith in order to continue to serve the surrounding community. But it is our faith that inspires us to serve. Take the Little Sisters of the Poor, who live out their Christian faith by serving the elderly poor".

On the journey,
Fr. Dennis G. Lewandowski

2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time

January is Poverty Awareness Month! The U.S. Catholic Bishops invite all of us to join them in taking up Pope Francis' challenge to live in solidarity with the poor by participating in the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD). This campaign is a domestic anti-poverty program of the U.S. Catholic Bishops, working to carry out the mission of Jesus Christ "... to bring good news to the poor ... release to captives ... sight to the blind, and let the oppressed go free." (Luke 4:18)

CCHD works to break the cycle of poverty by helping low-income people participate in decisions that affect their lives, families and communities, and by offering a hand up, not a hand out. This program also has a complementary mission of educating on poverty and its causes. This strategy of education for justice that helps people who are poor speak and act for themselves reflects the mandate of the Scriptures and the principles of Catholic social teaching.

This Campaign for Human Development also provides the Catholic faithful with concrete opportunities to live out the love of God and neighbor in ways that express our baptismal call and continuing Eucharistic transformation. It is an essential part of the Church in the United States' social mission, and a unique part of the Catholic community's broad commitment to assist low-income people, families and communities. I encourage you to learn more about this campaign visiting the link below.

www.usccb.org/about/catholic-campaign-for-human-development

I also wish to echo Pope Francis' call to reflection on the theme of the 2017 World Day of Migrants and Refugees: "Child Migrants, the Vulnerable and Voiceless". The Holy Father urges all people of good will, faith communities, governments, and institutions to "take care of the young, who in a threefold way are defenseless: they are children, they are foreigners, and they have no means to protect themselves. I ask everyone to help those who, for various reasons, are forced to live far from their homeland and are separated from their families."

On the journey,
Fr. Dennis G. Lewandowski