By Anne Marie Amacher
Fortnight for Freedom, a time of prayer, study, catechesis and public action, has been called for by the U.S. Catholic bishops. The two-week event will take place June 21 to July 4. (Fortnight means 14 days.)
Bishop Martin Amos will open Fortnight for Freedom in the Diocese of Davenport with a holy hour for religious freedom at 7 p.m. on June 21 at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport.
June 21 is the feast of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More. St. Thomas More is the patron of religious freedom. July 4 is the celebration of our country’s freedom as an independent nation.
At the national level, a kickoff Mass will be held June 21 at the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore. Bishop William Lori of Baltimore will celebrate that Mass.
Bishop Amos said that “as we approach the anniversary of the founding of our great nation, we have cause to take a few moments to reflect on our heritage.
“In our nation, we have more liberty and freedom to act than many other nations. Because of that liberty and freedom many ideologies compete for dominance in our lives and governance. We have become a divided people in many respects, and there is a danger that differences may overshadow constitutional rights,” the bishop said.
He asks the people of the diocese to join in a “diocesan expression of unity and concern for religious freedoms” by taking action. Options offered include:
• Celebrating a Mass for religious freedom on July 4. If a church has bells, the bishop asks that the bells be rung at noon on July 4 to coincide with a nationwide bell-ringing effort.
• Hosting a holy hour for religious freedom in the parish, preached by a priest or deacon, on Thursdays in June.
• Providing information in bulletin inserts throughout June.
• Making religious freedom a part of the preaching on Sundays from June 21-July 4.
• Distribution of prayer cards is another option.
The diocese and www.fortnight4freedom.org have resources available.
“Our expressions of concern for religious freedom should not be confined to the fortnight or its activities, but rather be an element of our continuing concern for freedom and justice,” Bishop Amos said. Suggested foundational activities include:
• Establishing a source of information, prayer cards and devotional materials focused on respect for life and the Sacred Heart of Jesus as focal points for religious freedom within the parish during the fortnight.
• Hosting or providing talks on religious freedom from Pope Paul VI’s “Dignitatis Humanae,” either in conjunction with holy hours or separately.
• Encouraging parishioners to contact the president and Congress regarding their concern for religious freedom.
At their upcoming spring meeting, the U.S. bishops will discuss religious liberty efforts regarding the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ mandate. It would force Catholic institutions to provide health insurance coverage to employees for procedures the Catholic Church opposes, including abortion-inducing drugs, artificial contraceptives and sterilization. The mandate was announced Aug. 1, 2011, as part of the rules HHS is issuing to implement the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed in 2010.
The bishops also will look at concerns pertaining to court rulings and policy decisions that have forced Catholic institutions out of providing adoption and foster care services.
To conclude Fortnight for Freedom, Bishop Amos encourages parishes to use resources provided for a Mass that day.
At the national level, a closing liturgy will be held July 4 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington will celebrate the Mass and Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia will be the homilist.
Both national Masses will be broadcast by Eternal Word Television Network.
“Please join me in prayerfully embracing this challenge not only as a means to protect the rights of Catholics to participate in the life of the nation in conformance with their faith, but as a teaching moment about the rights of all and good governance,” Bishop Amos said.
Send parish activities to Messenger
As parishes plan activities to be held throughout the Fortnight for Freedom period, they are encouraged to email details to The Catholic Messenger at firstname.lastname@example.org so that others can be aware of the efforts.