Catholics urged to pray, fast during Fortnight for Freedom
Local observance to include lectures, Mass
By Julie Filby
CNS photo from Reuters
During the 14 days from June 21—the vigil of the feasts of martyrs John Fisher and Thomas More—to July 4, Independence Day, the U.S. bishops have called for a “Fortnight for Freedom.”
In responding to this call for prayer, education and public action for religious freedom, the Denver Archdiocese has planned several events including Mass, lectures and days of fasting.
“Religious liberty is inherent to our very humanity,” Bishop James D. Conley, apostolic administrator for the Denver Archdiocese told the Denver Catholic Register. “(It’s) hard–wired into us by our Creator—and is not granted to us by the state. The Fortnight for Freedom is an opportunity to equip ourselves for the task of evangelization and conversion before us.”
The two-week initiative was prompted by moves of the Obama administration that threaten the Church’s religious freedom, most notably the Health and Human Services mandate that requires employers to cover contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs that Catholics and others find morally objectionable. The mandate has drawn heavy criticism and the bishops have warned it could force Catholic schools, hospitals and charitable agencies to close.
On May 21, 43 Catholic dioceses and organizations across the country—including archdioceses of New York, St. Louis and Washington, D.C.—announced lawsuits against the federal government to challenge the mandate. At least 11 previous lawsuits had already been filed by states, colleges, private employers and other organizations.
FORTNIGHT FOR FREEDOM
What: Archbishop’s Lecture
“As Catholics and as Americans we are obliged to defend the right to religious liberty for ourselves and others,” said Bishop Conley. “All of us, not only Catholics, are impacted by threats to basic freedoms.
“The most important thing we can do to protect our religious liberty is to pray and fast,” he continued. “Beyond that we need to become educated and we need to educate others on this vital issue.”
In Denver an early morning Mass will be celebrated June 22 at Christ the King Chapel at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary, followed by a lecture on religious liberty by political science professor Robert Kraynak of Colgate University. Kraynak will also speak on the evening of June 21.
Gatherings for college-aged students at St. Thomas Aquinas University Parish in Boulder and Blessed John XXIII Parish in Fort Collins will be included in the archdiocesan activities, as well as workshops for Hispanic leaders. Students at Holy Family and Bishop Machebeuf high schools were invited to submit essays on the free exercise of religion. The winner, to be selected by Bishop Conley during the fortnight, will receive a $500 scholarship.
Bishop Conley has asked the faithful to fast on the Fridays of the initiative: June 22 and June 29.
“I think sometimes we get so tied up in the material activism that we forget about the importance of fasting,” said J.D. Flynn, chancellor, whose office has spearheaded archdiocesan Fortnight events. “If there’s one thing we can do to affect change in our country it’s to pray and fast.
“Fortnight for Freedom is a great opportunity for all of us to not only focus our minds on the threats against religious liberty in our country, but more importantly, to focus our prayers.”
Parishes have been encouraged to have holy hours; watch bulletins or call the parish office for more information.
Nationally, a Mass will be offered 7 p.m. EST June 21 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore, Md. to open Fortnight for Freedom. The campaign will close with a July 4 Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C., concelebrated by Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington and Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M., Cap. Archbishop Chaput will deliver the homily at the 12:10 p.m. liturgy that will televised nationwide on the EWTN cable network. Check local listings for details.
For more information visit www.fortnight4freedom.org.