Dignitatis Humanae is the declaration on religious freedom from the Second Vatican Council in 1965. It outlines the church’s advocacy for protections of religious liberty: …in order that relationships of peace and harmony be established and maintained within the whole of mankind, it is necessary that religious freedom be everywhere provided with an effective constitutional guarantee and that respect be shown for the high duty and right of man freely to lead his religious life in society.

During the American Revolution, Catholics comprised only about 1% (25,000) of the total population in the colonies. They supported the Revolution and independence from Britain in hopes it would offer them greater religious liberty. After the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were ratified, the very first amendment reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” We cannot take our religious freedom as Catholics for granted. It’s important to be knowledgeable on the issues, to speak up whenever and wherever injustices occur, to volunteer and serve causes which are most important to us, and to live our lives as faithful Catholics in prayer and in community with one another.

I invite you to get to know the Florida Catholic Conference if you haven’t already. The bishops of each Florida diocese are members, including ours, and it is part of the larger US Conference of Catholic Bishops. USCCB provides advocacy and information on issues of our religious freedoms and the direction of the Church in America. It’s a wonderful resource for Catholics to have a voice and engage with elected officials. We enjoy numerous freedoms in America, but freedom isn’t free. It’s something we must work toward daily to ensure freedom and justice for all, both now and in the future.

Kimberlee Riley,
President & CEO

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