People of faith must advocate for religious liberty, says House speaker

By Allana Haynes

of faith have the responsibility to “advocate for their faith,” not
only through good works, but on spiritual realms — one being through prayer, U.S.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, said May 17.

He made the comments at
the 12th annual National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, which drew a record high of
about 1,300 attendees to a downtown Washington hotel.

Ryan and Sister Constance
Veit, communications director for her religious congregation, the Little
Sisters of the Poor, were special guests at the breakfast.

The keynote speaker was Cardinal
Robert Sarah, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and
Discipline of the Sacraments, who addressed the topic of marriage in the

He said that it is the
responsibility of the church to demonstrate to others how marriage should look
within a Christian community.

In his address, in
addition to highlighting the importance of prayer, Ryan also emphasized the
need to advocate that government safeguard religious liberty.

“Religious liberty
is going to make a comeback,” said Ryan. “There is a growing need for
faith in this nation.”

Ryan also emphasized the
importance of good works, referencing the ministry of Sister Constance and the
Little Sisters of Poor.

In 2015, the religious congregation challenged the
Affordable Care Act’s mandate that most religious employers cover contraceptives
for their employees even if the employer finds such coverage morally
unacceptable. The Little Sisters’ challenge and a number of other suits filed against
the mandate by Catholic and other faith-based entities reached the Supreme
Court. On May 16, the high court sent the cases — known collectively as Zubik
v. Burwell — back down to the lower courts.

At the breakfast, Sister
Constance underlined that people of faith should not only take care of the
physical needs of those who are hurting, but should care for their spiritual
needs and demonstrate to them their value.

“Look upon each
person, friend or foe as Christ would,” said Sister Constance. “Even
our most cunning adversary is a person ultimately longing to love and to be

Bishop Paul S. Loverde of
Arlington, Virginia, gave the invocation and blessing at the start of the
breakfast, and Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori, who is chairman of the
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, gave
the final blessing.


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