Fortnight for Freedom: 4th annual event to pray for religious liberty

June 16, 2015

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is dedicating the 14 days from June 21 to July 4 as the fourth-annual Fortnight for Freedom — a time of prayer and taking action for the preservation of religious freedom.

“Religious freedom is not only that of private thought or worship,” Pope Francis said. “It is the liberty to live, both privately and publicly, according to the ethical principles resulting from found truth.”

The bishops first commemorated this two-week period in 2012. At the time, debate raged between the Catholic Church and the Obama Administration over a Health and Human Services mandate in the Affordable Healthcare Act which requires all private employers — including the Catholic Church — to provide insurance coverage of sterilization, contraception and abortion-inducing drugs and devices. 

The administration took the position that those insured would simply not use those services if those procedures were against their religious beliefs. 

However, the Church contends it should not be forced to pay for insurance coverage for procedures that go against its core beliefs and teachings. It also believes its employees shouldn’t be forced to pay for these procedures as part of their insurance premiums — or be penalized with higher premiums for not including coverage.

Ongoing opportunities around the Archdiocese to pray during Fortnight for Freedom include:

■ Mondays, June 22 and June 29 at 10:30 a.m. at Christ the Good Shepherd Catholic Church, located at 18511 Klein Church Rd. in Spring, followed by Mass at noon sponsored by Christ the Good Shepherd Respect Life.

■ Monday, June 22, Holy Hour for Life at 7 p.m. in the chapel at St. Cyril of Alexandria Catholic Church, located at 10503 Westheimer Rd. in Houston, sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, Council #8024.

■ Tuesdays, June 23 and June 30, after 9 a.m. Mass at Prince of Peace Catholic Church, located at 19222 Tomball Pkwy. in Houston, sponsored by Prince of Peace Respect Life.

■ Fridays, June 26 and July 3, after 9 a.m. Mass at St. Ignatius Loyola Catholic Church, located at 7810 Cypresswood Dr. in Spring, sponsored by St. Ignatius Respect Life.

■ Saturdays, June 27 and July 4, at 9:30 a.m. after the 8:30 a.m. Mass at Christ the Good Shepherd Catholic Church, located at 18511 Klein Church Rd. in Spring, sponsored by St. Edwards and Knights of Columbus.

■ Saturdays, June 27 and July 4, Mass for Life at 8:30 a.m. at the Catholic Charismatic Center, followed by a Rosary at Planned Parenthood, located at 4600 Gulf Fwy. in Houston.

■ Friday, July 3, Adoration Hour For Life, 7 p.m. at St. Mary Catholic Church, located at 1612 E Walker St. in League City.

■ Saturday, July 4, 10 a.m. Mass and Rosary at Shrine of the True Cross, located at 300 Fm 517 Rd. E in Dickinson.

Pope Francis has observed that “religion [cannot] be relegated to the inner sanctum of personal life, without influence on societal and national life.” Evangelii Gaudium, no. 183. 

In insisting that our liberties as Americans be respected, Pope Benedict XVI said that this work belongs to “an engaged, articulate and well-formed Catholic laity endowed with a strong critical sense vis-à-vis the dominant culture.” 

Therefore, catechesis on religious liberty is not the work of priests alone. If religious liberty is not properly understood, all people suffer and are deprived of the essential contribution to the common good, be it in education, health care, feeding the hungry, civil rights, and social services that individuals make every day, both here at home and overseas. 

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Protect Rights of Conscience and Religious Liberty
The need for legislation protecting the rights of conscience and religious liberty has grown more pressing. The Obama Administration’s contraceptive/abortifacient mandate under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) began to be enforced against nonprofit religious schools, charities and health care providers on January 1, 2014. More recently the state of California started forcing all health insurers in the state to include elective abortions in the health plans they sell. These two problems are addressed by the Health Care Conscience Rights Act (H.R 940). This measure adds a long-overdue conscience clause to the ACA, and strengthens the Weldon amendment that forbids governmental bodies receiving federal Health and Human Services funds from discriminating against those who decline to take part in abortion or abortion coverage. Members should be urged to support and co-sponsor H.R. 940. 

Get Connected
Text the word FREEDOM (or LIBERTAD) to 377377 to defend your right to live your life by faith.

Films for Freedom
Click here to find a list of inspiring movies to watch each night of the Fortnight for Freedom.