UP Catholic 05 26 2017 E Edition Page 4

4 May 26, 2017 THE U.P. CATHOLIC COMMENTARY www.upcatholic.org A cross the State of Michigan, Cath- olic agencies are serving those in need, guided by the tenets of their faith. For example, a faith-based agency may be in the area, connecting chil- dren in need with safe and loving homes; a faith-based school is likely nearby offering opportunities for positive growth and de- veloping hearts of service in their students; or perhaps a faith-based health center is in town serving those who cannot afford to pay with the same level of care they provide to any other patient. While these organizations and their staffexercise their freedom to serve others in faith, federal regulations over the past several years have tried to place restric- tions on their public work, especially in the areas of adoption, education, health care, and charitable ser- vices. Religious organiza- tions that speak in support of the protection of human life, as well as marriage as the union of one man and one woman, have been accused of bigotry and have faced discrimination in federal contracts. Rather than celebrating the manner by which people and institutions of differing faiths are making positive differenc- es in their communities, federal regulations have hindered their freedom to serve. Early in May, the president signed a new Executive Order that reirms all people have a right not only to pray and wor- ship according to their consciences, but to practice their faith in their homes, schools, charities, and businesses in private and in the public square, without discrimination or coercion from the government. Among other aspects, the Executive Order directs the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to consider issuing amended reg- ulations, consistent with applicable law, to address conscience-based objections to the HHS contraceptive mandate. The Executive Order signals a welcome shift in policy from the previous administra- tion. At the same time, conversations must continue to ensure adequate protections are included in any final regulations that are developed and, on a more permanent basis, in legislation at the federal and state level. For years, the U.S. bishops and the Michigan Catholic Conference have advocated for mea- sures that create stronger protections against religious discrimination by governmental en- tities and provide a right of action for victims in court. The executive action should not be the final outcome but should begin the pro- cess of alleviating unnecessary restrictions on people and organizations of faith. Earlier this year, Michigan Catholic Confer- ence began a statewide television and online advertising effort to highlight the value of Catholic institutions in the public realm, especially in the areas of education, health care, and charitable care. Michigan has approximately 222 Catholic schools serving 52,447 students, 22 Catholic hospitals and 11 Catholic health care centers serving almost 6.7 million patients, and 88 social service centers serving close to 480,000 clients (2016 icial Catholic Directory, P.J. Kenedy & Sons). As the advertising demonstrates, the impact of these institutions is large, especial- ly when coupled with the efforts of individual Catholics and the over 630 parishes in the state. The Catholic faith guides the actions of its believers and institutions every day, not just on Sunday. The freedom to express ones religion is not just a Catholic right, it is an American right. At a public meeting in 1844, Abraham Lincoln called the guarantee of conscience rights most sacred and inviolable, a guar- antee that belongs no less to the Catholic, than to the Protestant. Today, it is import- ant to speak up so all can freely express their beliefs: people of faith and their spiritual leaders; faith-based agencies and secular organizations; and longtime citizens, immi- grants, and refugees. Pope Francis recently spoke in Egypt about the importance of dialogue between people of different faiths and cultures to create a better future. The Holy Father laid out several tasks in forming an environment where people are truly able to have meaningful conversations, including respecting the rights and basic freedoms of all, especially religious free- doms. As national discussion continues about the freedom to serve, the Catholic Church will call for strong federal protections that allow for dialogue to occur and to protect the conscience rights of faith-based persons and entities. The Word from Lansing is a regular col- umn for Catholic news outlets and is written by Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) President and CEO Paul A. Long. Michigan Catholic Conference is the icial public pol- icy voice of the Catholic Church in this state. Religious Freedom: An American Right for All HELP WANTED Catholic Social Services of the U.P. is interested in hiring a full-time Licensed Master Social Worker to serveatourIronMountainice. Individual and family benefits are available. For more information please call us at 227-9119. Job Posting For Full-time Elementary Teachers St. Mary's Catholic School, in Sault Ste. Marie, MI is accepting applications for full-time Elementary Teachers for the 2017-2018 school year. Applicants must be certified in the State of Michigan or be in the process of obtaining certification. Formoreinformationcontacttheschoolice at 906-635-6141 or send letter of interest and resume to hyanni@eupschools.org. An employment application may be found on the school's website: stmarysup.org. COOPER OFFICE EQUIPMENT Full Copier Line From Tabletop To Networkable Digital Laser Systems (906) 228-6929 Phone 800-432-7682 Fax 800-908-8542 Purchase & Lease Options Authorized KONICA Printers-Copiers Dealer THE WORD FROM LANSING Paul A. Long TODAY, IT IS IMPORTANT TO SPEAK UP SO ALL CAN FREELY EXPRESS THEIR BELIEFS: PEOPLE OF FAITH AND THEIR SPIRITUAL LEADERS; FAITH-BASED AGENCIES AND SECULAR ORGANIZATIONS; AND LONGTIME CITIZENS, IMMIGRANTS, AND REFUGEES. If you aren't able to visit our advertisers this week please pray for the success of their businesses. Find parish listings including Mass times at www.dioceseofmarquette.org

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