PORTLAND, Maine — The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland will sponsor a lecture on religious freedom at 7 p.m. Saturday at Talbot lecture room in Luther Bonney Hall on the University of Southern Maine’s Portland campus.
Kristina Arriaga, executive director of the Becket Fund for Religious Freedom, will deliver an address titled “One Nation Under God With Liberty and Justice For All: Historical Reflections on Religious Liberty.”
Bishop Richard Malone, in a press release issued Wednesday, invited people of all faiths to attend.
Arriga’s trip to Maine is part of American Roman Catholic bishops’ opposition to President Barack Obama’s mandate that birth control be covered by health insurance. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has called it is one of many threats to religious freedom in government, according to The Associated Press.
Bishops at a national meeting in Atlanta last week insisted that they had no partisan agenda. They said they were forced into action by state and federal policies they say would require them to violate their beliefs in order to maintain the vast public-service network the church has built over a century or longer, the AP reported.
Arriaga’s speech in Portland is part of the “Fortnight for Freedom — a great hymn of prayer for our country,” announced last month by U.S. bishops. It began Wednesday, the memorial of St. Thomas More, and will end on July 4, the memorial of St. John Fisher. Both men were described in a press release announcing the Maine diocese’s participation in the fortnight as “remaining faithful in the face of persecution by political power.” Both men opposed King Henry VIII’s break with the Roman Catholic Church. They were canonized together on June 22, 1935, by Pope Pius XI.
The fortnight is focused on education and awareness, and special events are planned throughout the nation to highlight the importance of defending religious liberty, according to Marc Mutty, public policy director for the Maine diocese.
Arriaga has a master’s degree from Georgetown University and joined the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty in 1995. The fund is a nonprofit, public-interest legal and educational institute that protects the free expression of all faiths.