Liz Yore is a Chicago based attorney who is a long term veteran of child advocacy. She has seen firsthand the affects of secularization on the outstanding work of Catholic Charities of Chicago. In addition to her work on behalf of children Liz was legal counsel for Harpo Productions (the Oprah Winfrey Show).
“I send you greetings from Illinois, the Heartland, the land of Lincoln, the home of the great evangelist Bishop Fulton Sheen and the adopted home of St. Francis Cabrini. I salute the great patriots of Orange County for their passion and leadership in this most important battle of our lives: to preserve our First Freedom.
I speak on behalf of the children of America when I speak of the importance of Religious Freedom. It is for the children that our ancestors came to the shores of America, with empty pockets, but a strong faith. As a child advocate for 30 years, I am watching the systematic elimination and eradication of the Catholic Church from serving the poor, abused, and the neglected children of this country. In the state of Illinois, as well as many other states, the impact of the Catholic Church in the public square is eroding, quickly and completely. The systematic elimination of the Catholic Church has been intentional, strategic, and diabolically effective. Christ said, “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” This government with its leftist ideology with its war against the Catholic Church is prohibiting the little children from being served by the Catholic Church. Why is this so heinous, so vile, so tragic? Because the Catholic Church has been serving children since the founding of this country. When Mother Cabrini arrived on the shores of America, she founded 67 institutions-primarily for children:schools, orphanages, hospitals and parish ministries. She responded to God’s call to serve the needy and suffering children. Unlike the Government, she asked nothing in return from the children that she served. Through the grace of God, she built ministries of healing, teaching, caring in cities across the United States. Why is this government so afraid of the Catholic Church? Because like Mother Cabrini, the Catholic Church through Catholic Charities, brings the healing, compassion and mercy of God to suffering souls. Our faith in God sustains the corporal works of mercy, empowers the 17,000 volunteers for Catholic Charities in Chicago. Incredibly, in Chicago, Catholic Charities served 1 in 3 citizens. We serve the downtrodden because we love God. We do not serve government.
The coercive dictates of the government now demand that the Catholic Church violate its sacred tenets or vanquish its corporal works of mercy. For 40 years, Catholic Charities was the premier social service agency providing the highest quality of adoption and foster care services to abused and neglected children and their families. Let me share a closely guarded secret: the leftist government bureaucrats aren’t interested in children, they care about their leftist ideological agenda first and foremost. They will sacrifice and discard superior quality services so that the radical views are imposed on the country. This is not a government of the people, by the people, for the people, it is a government of, by and for the elitist ACLU radicals.
When the Illinois State Legislature voted to legalize civil unions for same sex couples in November 2010, which the Illinois Bishops fought against, the Bishops were assured that this law would not affect state contracts for Catholic Charities and other religious social services. Catholic Charities carried out the Church’s teaching that children are better off with a married mother and father and refused to place foster children with same sex couples. They were duped and lied to. The wrath of the leftist government of the democratic attorney general and governor determined that Catholic providers with state contracts would no longer be able to reject placing foster children with same sex couples. Despite the Bishops filing lawsuits asserting violation of religious liberty rights, the Catholic Church is no longer serving abused and neglected children in Illinois. In a blink of an eye, the child welfare system which Catholic Charities helped to build, has now locked out the Catholic Church. In the words of Jesus, suffer the little children.
Despite being the best provider of quality services, all the dioceses of Illinois, no longer serve the most disenfranchised children, foster children. In the words of Jesus, “suffer the little children.”
In rural areas of Illinois where Catholic Charities was the only provider of services to disadvantaged wards of the state, they are now forbidden to serve these little ones. In the words of Jesus, “suffer the little children.” But there is so much more. This tyranny is happening around the country with a concerted effort to gut the work built on the shoulders and generosity of the countless Mother Cabrinis of the Catholic Church. The secular government has redoubled its eradication campaign against Catholic Charities in Massachusetts and Washington, D.C. Like Illinois, the children of Massachusetts and Washington D.C. will in the words of Jesus, “Suffer the little children.”
The government is now moving to strip the Catholic Church of its charitable influence in the world. The federal government denied the renewal of a federal human trafficking grant to the Catholic Bishops because it did not provide abortion and contraceptives to victims of human trafficking. This draconian order occurred even though the Bishops’ work in human trafficking services had been judged by an independent audit as superior to all other groups! Do you see pattern and the impact of a coercive secular government? Tragically, ideology trumps superior services to children. In the words of Jesus, “suffer the little children.”
America’s greatest President, Abraham Lincoln, Illinois’ favorite son is turning over in his grave over these atrocities against our religious freedom. In 1844 Lincoln introduced a resolution in Springfield declaring that “the guarantee of the right of conscience, as found in our Constitution, is most sacred and inviolable, and one that belongs no less to the Catholic than to the Protestant, and that all attempts to abridge or interfere with these rights, either of Catholics or Protestants, directly or indirectly, have our decided disapprobation and shall have our most effective opposition.”
Well, President Lincoln, our religious freedom is in shreds in the State of Illinois.
Finally, the call to action for Catholics hearkens the words of Illinois’ powerful Catholic evangelist, the late Bishop Fulton J. Sheen. His rallying call is profoundly relevant today in our fight for our First Freedom. Sheen exhorted us:
The modern man wants back his soul: He wants the intelligentsia to stop the nonsense of regarding him as an animal, a libido, a toolmaker, or a voter, and to begin to look at him as a creature made in the image and likeness of God. It is pathetic to hear people asking: “What can I as an individual do in this crisis?’
“America, Awake! You have a high summons! Walk worthy of your vocation. Purge yourself! Repent! Your greatness is in your return to God!
In the words and spirit of Lincoln, Mother Cabrini, and Fulton Sheen, reclaim your government and in the words of Jesus, “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come to me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”
Orange County Religious Freedom Rally, October 20, 2012