This week is Religious Freedom Week. The US Bishops’ Religious Freedom Week, originally called the ‘Fortnight for Freedom’, began in 2012 as a response to the growing threats to Religious freedom around the world. The theme for this year’s Religious Freedom Week is: “For the Good of All”. Religious Freedom Week runs from the Feast of Saints Thomas More and John Fisher, 22 June to 29 June, the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul.

Archbishop Thomas Wenski, the acting president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee for Religious Liberty, has warned against “discrimination against religion in general and Catholic Christianity in particular.” He said, “Religious freedom is the human right that guarantees all other rights — peace and creative living together will only be possible if freedom of religion is fully respected.”

Archbishop Wenski said that “Religious freedom is under stress throughout the world.” In Western liberal democracies he emphasises, “discrimination against religion in general and Catholic Christianity in particular, is growing — albeit in perhaps more sophisticated and less violent ways.”

He continued, stating that although human rights advocates include religion in their advocacy, he highlights that, “most emphasise ‘tolerance’ as if religion were only a source of conflict. Or, they speak about religion in terms of ‘individual choices,’ as if religion were merely the concern of an individual’s conviction and were devoid of any social consequences.”

Archbishop Wenski affirms the importance of religious freedom, “just as freedom of speech depends not only on one’s right to say what’s on one’s mind but also on the existence of institutions like newspapers, universities, libraries, political parties and other associations that make up what we call ‘civil society,’ so too freedom of religion ‘for the good of all’ must also encompass protecting those institutions that nourish the individual’s free exercise of religion.”

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