Fortnight For Failure

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For the second year in a row, the USCCB has issued a call for a Fortnight for Freedom, running from June 21 to July 4. As the website states, “The U.S. bishops have called for … a two-week period of prayer and action, to address many current challenges to religious liberty, including the August 1, 2013 deadline for religious organizations to comply with the HHS mandate, Supreme Court rulings that could redefine marriage in June, and religious liberty concerns in areas such as immigration and humanitarian services.

Look, this sounds good. I applaud the effort of the bishops. But I remember what happened last year. Unless priests respond with meaningful statements and actions, this call for religious liberty will fall on deaf ears among an uninformed and confused laity. How many Catholics after last year’s Fortnight for Freedom went to the ballot box and voted for the very man threatening that religious liberty, particularly via his HHS mandate and redefinition of marriage? That man, of course, is Barack Obama. And the answer is that a majority of Catholics pulled the lever for him last November.

Let’s be blunt: The ignorance and disconnect among everyday Catholics to the realities of public life is nothing short of astounding. If a priest reads a nice statement about the importance of Americans supporting religious freedom, he will get nods from every head in the pews. None will disagree. The most devout Obama supports will enthusiastically assent. They fail to make the connection. They don’t get it.

I’m not asking priests and bishops to be overly political or do things they’re not comfortable doing. They must, however, be clear about what they’re saying. Besides, the election is over anyway. It needs to be made explicit to the laity that America’s current president is threatening their religious liberty through the HHS mandate, and so are liberals/progressives generally with their embrace of same-sex marriage.

If this isn’t made clear in the fortnight ahead, then this is destined to be less a Fortnight for Freedom than a fortnight for failure.

For Catholic Exchange dot com and Ave Maria Radio, I’m Paul Kengor.


image credit:

Dr. Paul Kengor


Dr. Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College and executive director of The Center for Vision & Values. His books include “The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism” and “Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century.”

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  • Dave

    Paul, you said priests and bishops shouldn’t do/say things they’re not comfortable with. I disagree. They should be saying things that make them and us uncomfortable. We have no place for the church of “nice.” We need bold priests and bishops who make us squirm in our pews with discomfort over this tyrannical administration.

  • BillinJax

    A case for Martyrdom

    Anyone who thinks we should set our faith aside in America
    in order to avoid stepping over the line in this current political battle for
    the soul of our country is courting disaster.

    One thing is abundantly clear to any Catholic who understands
    the faith as shepherded by our Holy Father in Rome
    and that is the current regime in Washington D.C.
    under Barack Obama is by far the most anti-Catholic administration in the
    history of our country. The really sad thing is that our bishops had too long
    avoided the fight for fear of being accused of mixing politics and religion,
    and in the case of Obama the dreadful racist label from the media, allowing
    those of weak faith within their flocks who entered the political arena selling
    their souls to party platforms in opposition to our faith and values to
    establish a pattern of Christian capitulation.

    We and our societal standards based on the founders reliance
    on Divine guidance are no longer recognized as a legitimate challenge to the
    status quo separation phrase used to deny them. Our elected officials who were
    put into office to protect our freedoms have chosen to be a ruling class unto
    themselves. Those like Pelosi, Biden, Kerry, Dodd, Sebelius and many others
    show no remorse for pandering to the enemies of Holy
    Mother Church and by default are parts of the problem. The situation has become grave and we, with guidance from bishops who now realize just how serious the administration is in its effort to remove all obstacles to a full blown secularist society,
    have to get involved in the fight for the soul of America.

    It is time to stop pretending we are powerless to defend
    ourselves from those who have abandoned piety in favor of personal power and
    prestige. If we the laity, the Church Militant, are to be the martyrs for the
    faith standing together against the forces of evil which are consuming our
    nation as it progresses on the administrations path into oblivion then so it
    must be. It has and always must be for true followers of Christ a requirement to
    assist the Spirit of Pentecost within us in bringing forth upon our world the
    will of God to have life more abundant using the power of His Truth to make and
    keep men free. It is our duty, along with the message of hope and change within
    the church of Christ, to open the hearts of men to depend on the creators love
    to guide us to the place he is preparing for us not to succumb to the lure of
    an ever expanding totalitarian Marxist styled government promising to provide
    our every need in order to make us slaves to a godless political system.

  • larrybets

    @BillinJax:disqus Praise God!! That is exactly what we need. Maybe we should stop with all the government tax exemptions first so the Church can speak freely without fear of offending the govt. We have a duty as Catholics to speak the truth even if it stings. As Pope Francis said to the Cardinals….you must carry your cross. Oh God Almighty please raise up Holy Saintly priests in our day like St. John Vianney, St. Pio,and St. Catherine of Siena to combat these errors and to stand firm like an immovable rock. Have mercy on us all.

  • Obama_Dogeater

    The author is correct…unfortunately, there are many “low-information” Catholics, too. How sad.

  • Cbalducc

    Unless more people are shaken out of their complacency, we will continue to have “fortnights for indifference”!

  • TerryC

    The USCCB need to look to their European and South American brethren, who have shone no hesitation in taking political stands. If tax exemption is the price of that so be. I firmly believe that a case can be made that revocation of tax exempt status in retaliation for a Church speaking out against a political party or politician that conflicts with Church teaching is a violation of the First Amendment. I might be wrong or the USSC might disagree with me, but it’s time to take that fight to the courts. IN any case it is a scandal and a sin for the Church to be silent for fear of monetary penalty.

  • Catholic Christian

    And in how many ways does the USCCB support the liberal agenda? How often do the Cardinals dine with politicians who push abortion and gay marriage? What the hell is going on with you hypocrites? Then you want to push us forward like idiot pawns. I for one have little confidence in you.

  • Sharon

    “Unless priests respond with meaningful statements and actions” – might I add, unless priests stop voting for this and similar administrations. Priests at my son’s Catholic high school did not hide the fact that they were going to vote for Obama. A priest on FB made many statements that showed his support for Obama while also posting statements in favor of life and traditional marriage. There is a huge disconnect among the priests, and if that doesn’t change, how can it change among the laity?

  • lmaxwell53

    Thank you for an honest commentary. You hit the nail on the head. “The ignorance and disconnect among everyday Catholics to the realities of public life is nothing short of astounding” unfortunately sums it up quite well. But, of course, it isn’t just the people in the pews. There are also too many religious and clergy who “don’t get it” either, and who continue to quietly support legislation that is, ironically, slowly undermining their livelihoods. All we can do is try to make a difference in our own small spheres of influence, and pray.

  • Brent

    Are these the same priests and bishops that supported and pushed ObamaCare throughout their diocese because it sounded fair and compassionate? Talk about a disconnect. They vilified anyone who was against ObamaCare and characterized them as elitist and uncaring and now we’re neck deep in fighting the HHS mandate which ObamaCare authorized. We have wasted so much time and resources fighting various parts of ObamaCare that would have been moot because the US Catholic hierarchy pushed for its passage.

    And guess what? We are seeing the same exact thing with immigration reform. The Church leadership seems to promote any bill that has a compassionate title regardless of its actual contents. You want freedom? How about not pushing comprehensive reforms that give the government more power?

  • Lee

    I’m hearing some real conviction here. The Church will only go forward and survive the evil surrounding it through the people who stand for the Truth. Come together, back out of the door of government control and get to business learning about the voting process; and then get to the poles next election. I think it took we Catholics to elect the president, now we need to look at the rest of the staff in the Capitol.

  • John

    The majority of people in the pews in my diocese could care less about abortion or birth control since they have long ago left the church teachings behind, along with the sacrament of confession. I suspect my former pastor at the nearest church was a homosexual and frankly the latest new one looks questionable to me as well. You see the problem is that most Catholics are in fact tacit Episcopalians, and I feel certain many are agnostic as well. The church has become just another NGO, kind of a good-will society where everyone agrees it is good to make tuna sandwiches for the poor or pick up trash by the road, or sing an inspirational song, it’s a feel good thing. In the parish down the road never is any serious moral teaching given by the pastor, in fact the truth is quite obfuscated deliberately. And that my friend is what we refer to as being pastoral around here. Now, should there be a priest who lays it out, you can rest assured that in many if not most places they despise that guy, absolutely. There is very little Catholic church in existence around here even in the church itself it is scarce. Now if you are looking for a cross between Unitarian/episcopalian, Bingo, no pun intended, you have found “it”. There is no cavalry and there are no leaders. Just look at the Dolan fiasco, happy yuck yucks and a meal with Obama – all for a good cause of raising money. If ever there were 30 pieces of silver there sure were for that dinner. You can’t have leaders who smile and dance with the devil and expect the people to know anything. The only real real message the hierarchy sends relative to Cahtolic teaching is simply that it really really does not matter, just look at the zero consequences for those who urinate all over the church, its teaching and the truth.

  • QuoVadisAnima

    Like the old saying “Jesus came to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable”. 😉

  • QuoVadisAnima

    It would certainly help if there were an actual effort to inform the people in the pews that this event is taking place – last year it didn’t even make our parish bulletin, let alone get announced from the pulpit.

  • Ty

    Amen, Amen. We need our Priests to preach on these issues. Required viewing for current clergy and seminarians:

    Roman Catholics need to join forces with Alliance Defending Freedom and CitizenLink.

  • John

    Actually, as I recall the bishops opposed Obamacare as it was written and I believe it was the Catholic Hospital organization which was overseen by a daughter of charity of St Vincent DePaul (the same ones who educated me before it fell apart) that supported and was instrumental in its passage. But I could be off since this is from memory. Also there were several very pro-life democrats who held out until the very end and who received very personal assurances from President Obama that what is going on relative to Obama care and by inference the HHS mandate would NOT happen. So in essence as I recall, and again this is from memory so I may be off, but it was that sister who sold us out by putting the backing of Catholic hospitals behind Obama in direct opposition to the Bishops. On the other hand, I think Cardinal Dolan needs to resign since to me at least he has exercised world-class inexcusable judgment with the NYC dinner with Obama in which he gave a tacit pass to Mr. Biden by his comments to the effect that it was and I am paraprasing from memmory, that it was in effect nice to have so many Catholic candidates. Such a declaration of Catholicity from a leader of the church removes any obstacle of conscience for many voters, and inddeed makes my non-Catholic brother-in-law actually believe the church is pro-choice.

  • Brent

    My frustration stems more from what happens at the parish level (I should have been more specific when I said US Catholic hierarchy). During that time when ObamaCare was being debated, I remember there was always a Prayer of the Faithful intention for “affordable healthcare” which I always took as code for the passage of ObamaCare (especially since that intention went away after it passed).

    Catholic supporters talked in the abstract about how Christians must take care of the poor and downtrodden but they glossed over and ignored the details of the law (or just took it on blind faith that a many thousand page law wouldn’t have any objectionable clauses) despite many sources saying how this law was going to bite everyone, including religious institutions.

    As for the “pro-life” Democrats that held out and were supposedly double-crossed — so many people knew that it was a trap and begged them not to fall for it. And I think they knew that it was all a bunch of fake promises with no real teeth but it provided them the cover of looking like all the pro-life details were sorted out.

  • gratiaplena

    I walked one and a half miles last year in 103 degree heat and oppressive humidity from our Cathedral in Des Moines to the Capitol Building…most of it uphill–and I didn’t take any water with me. I also have a heart condition, so I’m grateful I didn’t keel over from heat stroke and a heart attack.

    …Only to have to listen to several speakers from our diocese-including the bishop himself–ramble on and on about “social justice” and how much Catholic Charities does for immigrants, the homeless, finding housing, setting up safe houses, helping welfare recipients, etc. NEVER ONCE did ANY OF THE SPEAKERS MENTION THE HHS’S CONTRACEPTION MANDATE!!! NOT ONE WORD ABOUT CATHOLICS PAYING FOR ABORTIONS, SURGICAL STERILIZATIONS, ABORTIFACIENT DRUGS, ETC!!!

    I’ll NEVER participate in another phony “Fortnight for Freedom”! I’m sick of the liberal USCCB’s ignoring of the REAL scandal of the Obama regime: FORCED CONTRACEPTION AND ABORTION!

    I almost killed myself in the horrible summer heat to stand up for Truth, and all I get is a Peace and Justice agenda, with the most blatant justice violation on earth, the savage abortion of innocent children, and forced paying for contraception, being COMPLETELY IGNORED!! NEVER AGAIN!!!

  • PIO

    I love your picture, I knew right away who it was!

  • PIO

    Our priest has only spoken about it once over a year ago.. That was because the bishop ordered all the priests to read the letter he wrote about it. Our priest never mentioned it again.

  • Mike, New Jersey

    It’s great to read these comments, most of which concur with my own feelings. Where are our shepherds? Some of them dining with the wolves! Instead of mass emailing our representatives to block this law or support that legislation, we should be mass emailing our bishops to get up and lead us. Teach what’s right and denounce what’s wrong. Why have Biden, Pelosi, Sibelius, Cuomo and Melinda Gates not been declared excommunicate. Their actions are publicly anti-Catholic, yet our bishops do almost nothing in defense of our faith. Henry VIII did more than all our bishops combined in defense of our faith, and he was a heretic. We Catholics are close to leaderless. We have had good Popes, but in general, with few exceptions, our bishops are lousy.
    Comments please.

  • ct

    I went to mass this weekend at a church I go to only occasionally, as the church I am a member of is over an hours drive, I sometimes go to this other church if I’m running behind. Sadly, this delightful African priest DID NOT articulate what Fortnight for Freedom is really about. Leaving a church full of Catholics with less than what they should know about the truth. He did say we need to attend a special Fourth of July mass, because we are a nation in deep need of fervent prayer, but he didn’t explain WHY as Catholics (and Christians on the whole) we are in such distress. The church was filled with people; young, old and in between, who needed to here the why, how, and what of the circumstances Catholic’s in this country find themselves in. But, to my great dismay, there was no firm and concise explanation given. I couldn’t agree more with Dr. Kengor that UNTIL ALL of our parish priests stand up and in a unified and clear voice explain the specific ways in which our Christian liberties are being threatened, and exactly why it is against Church teaching, citing Biblical and Catechism paragraph and verse, we will not change the hearts and minds of wayward Catholics.

  • smartypup

    as a Christian I would like to suggest that you start mobilizing your fellow parisioners to act on your own. Maybe start gathering good literature and dvd’s for your priests to see and view, like 5000 year leap, “grinding America down”, etc that explain how the Christian faith shaped America and our values/rights and also how the country is being destroyed from within. The Catholic church was hijacked by Marxists years ago in my opinion. That is why the priests are not fighting back or standing up for Christian values, they are completely sold on this big government social justice/communist scheme. It is a dangerous dance as eventually Christian americans are going to find themselves in a foreign land devoid of all rights and maybe even life!!!. We are seeing the evaporation of our rights right before our eyes. Obama is pure evil, and democrats and even some republicans are not doing anything to stop him. He wants total domination, that is what is in his Marxist heart. I love the comments I see here on this page. I also highly suggest that you learn more about homeschooling, that is the way to go as the public and even Catholic schools are brainwashing kids to think and act like socialist robots. They are teaching them anti ameriacan values and also rewriting our history. There are Catholic homeschool groups across the country. Please do more than sit by and be angry. Praying is good but you must do/act as well.

  • Brother Pilgrim

    Our priest has never mentioned Obamacare, HHS mandate, contraception, Fortnight for Freedom, religious freedom…that stuff does not fit into the cookie-cutter homily.
    Nor did he mention the canonization approvals of John Paul II and John XXIII. The average Catholic does not listen to Catholic Radio, watch Catholic TV, or read the National Catholic Register; therefore, they need to be taught and hear this stuff from the priest. If not, then it is no wonder that most Catholics do not act, live, and vote Catholic. From the people I talk to, in a vast majority of parishes, this is the norm and it is sad.

  • Micha_Elyi

    News flash: “the government tax exemptions” as you call it is no obstacle to preaching from the pulpit against government support of the sinfulness of abortion, coveting thy neighbor’s goods, and every other sin.

    Supporting or opposing candidates by name, yes the Church is barred from that by the US Federal Tax Code (and Popes!) but fiery criticism of certain policies is not off-limits to the Church and, really, is there any Catholic voter who was so ‘fallen away’ that she didn’t know who the abortion-blessing candidate was in 2008 and 2012?

    Get back to us when our bishops are fully exercising the advocacy that’s not off-limits to them because of “the government tax exemptions.”

  • Micha_Elyi

    You have a bishop who wrote a letter? And a priest who read it? Wow. Your parish and diocese seems way ahead of the one I live in.