The Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh is holding its third annual Fortnight for Freedom, which promotes religious freedoms for all according to the church. This year the theme is freedom to serve the poor and vulnerable, in accordance with the Catholic teachings.
“No one ever should be forced to violate their conscience. Because the conscience is our deepest, it’s the deepest part of the human person. It’s where we know right from wrong. It’s where we encounter the sacred, so we promote the freedom of conscience for everybody,” said Helene Paharik, Human Life and Dignity Director in the Diocese of Pittsburgh.
Through July 4 the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh’s website will feature information on all of the issues they will focus.
While the group is praying for those who are not allowed to practice their faith, they also say that their own faith is being violated in the United States. One of the changes the church is advocating is for the Affordable Health Care Act to not force institutions to provide contraceptives for employees.
“The Affordable Care Act creates a burden for [institutions]. They can’t violate their conscience while they serve the poor, and so we need legal protection so that we can still serve the poor and vulnerable and adhere to our conscience,” said Paharik.
In Pittsburgh the church was already issued a permanent injunction against forcing them to provide contraception for employees in December, but the Diocese is still praying for those not granted the injunction.
She says that not providing contraceptives for employees will not violate employee’s freedoms, because they can still provide for themselves. This separation for the Catholic Church will allow it to provide for the needy, without violating beliefs according to Paharik.
The church will also be praying and advocating for House and Senate Bill 300 to be voted down. The legislation makes discriminating against someone for their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, illegal. Paharik says these bills will force Catholics to violate their faith.
“If you are hiring someone to teach religion, [you expect] that they would be following the tenants of your faith and be an example to others, you know be an adherent to the teachings of your faith,” said Paharik.
The church will also be praying for all religions in other countries that are under persecution, such as Syria, Mexico and Nigeria.
The Fortnight of Freedom ends on the day all Americans recognize freedom, July 4, with Bishop Zubik celebrating mass at Saint Mary of Mercy in Downtown Pittsburgh.