U.S. dioceses will hold Masses, Holy Hours and other events to mark the second annual Fortnight for Freedom. The special period of prayer and reflection on the importance of religious liberty runs June 21-July 4.
|Archbishop William Lori
With an Aug. 1 deadline for compliance with the Health and Human Services mandate looming, many Catholics may have that particular threat to the consciences of religious institutions at the forefront of their minds. But the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops identifies several areas where “the most cherished of American freedoms” is at risk. Those include state immigration laws that bar churches from “harboring” undocumented immigrants and the targeting of Catholic foster care and adoption services for refusing to place children with same-sex couples or cohabiting heterosexual couples.
Two special liturgies will bookend the fortnight. Baltimore Archbishop William Lori, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, was to celebrate the Fortnight For Freedom Mass at the Baltimore Basilica on June 21. On July 4, Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., will be the principal celebrant of a noon Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. EWTN is scheduled to air both Masses.
At least 23 dioceses are planning special events related to the Fortnight, according to the U.S. bishops.
In the Archdiocese of Louisville, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz planned to hold a June 22 Holy Hour for Life, Marriage and Liberty followed by Mass at St. Paul Parish in Louisville.
In Phoenix, Ariz., Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted and Auxiliary Bishop Eduardo A. Nevares will celebrate a series of Masses focused on religious freedom, including on the feast days of St. John the Baptist (June 24) and Sts. Peter and Paul (June 29), all of whom suffered persecution by a political authority.
The Diocese of Rockville Centre, N.Y., will hold a rally for religious liberty June 29, with Bishop William Murphy serving as the keynote speaker, while the Diocese of Springfield, Ill., will hold a rally with Bishop Thomas Paprocki on July 3.
At the parish level
For Catholic parishes hoping to celebrate the Fortnight, the U.S. bishops offered several suggestions:
◗ Host a Catholic movie night, showing a film like “A Man for All Seasons” about English martyr St. Thomas More.
◗ Organize daylong Eucharistic adoration.
◗ Sponsor a presentation of the history of U.S. Catholicism.
◗ Host a panel discussion on policy issues important to people of faith.
◗ Pray a daily Rosary in the parish for the cause of religious liberty.
For more information, visit Fortnight4Freedom.org.