Various initiatives are planned throughout the country in response to the U.S. bishopsâ€™ call for a â€œFortnight for Freedomâ€ June 21-July 4 to encourage prayer, education and public action about religious freedom.
The initiative was created in response to several moves by the Obama administration that are threatening the Churchâ€™s religious freedom. The most well-known action is the Health and Human Services mandate that requires employers to cover birth control and other services that Catholics and other believers find morally objectionable.
At Baltimoreâ€™s Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Archbishop William E. Lori will offer a special June 21 Mass at 7 p.m. to open the fortnight. June 21 is the vigil Mass for the feast of Saints John Fisher and Thomas More.
The close of the two-week observance will feature a July 4 Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, which will be concelebrated by Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington and Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia. Archbishop Chaput will serve as the homilist at the 12:10 p.m. liturgy.
Bishop Richard Malone of Portland, Maine will celebrate a July 2 Mass at Portlandâ€™s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
â€œReligious liberty is not only about our ability to go to Mass on Sunday or to pray the Rosary at home. It is about whether we can continue to make our contribution to the common good of all Americans without violating our deeply-held moral beliefs,â€ Bishop Malone said. â€œThis issue affects all Americans â€” it is not a Catholic issue, a Jewish issue, an Orthodox, Mormon, or Muslim issue. It is an American issue.â€
In Arlington, Va. Bishop Paul S. Loverde will celebrate a Holy Hour for Religious Freedom at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More on June 21 at 7:30 p.m. [More]