Let freedom ring

July 17, 2012

HOUSTON — Though the Fortnight for Freedom has officially come to an end, Daniel Cardinal DiNardo and the U.S. bishops continue to encourage Catholics to get informed, pray and advocate for religious liberty. 

The U.S. bishops asked Catholics in America to join in a campaign of prayer from June 21 to July 4. Called the "Fortnight for Freedom," the initiative encouraged parishes to celebrate religious liberty. The weekend prior to July 4, Daniel Cardinal DiNardo celebrated three Masses in Galveston and during his homilies spoke about religious freedom and conscience protection to Catholics celebrating Independence Day on the island. On July 4, he celebrated a Mass at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in downtown Houston to commemorate the end of the Fortnight.

Though the 14-day prayer initiative has ended, there are still plenty of ways to learn about the U.S. bishops' ongoing concerns regarding the protection of religious liberty:

Visit www.archgh.org/conscience-protection
Why is religious liberty important to the Catholic Church and to all Americans? What has Daniel Cardinal DiNardo said about the topic of religious freedom this year? What are 12 things everyone should know about the HHS mandate? For background on the issue, a review a timeline of events related to the HHS mandate and more, visit the Archdiocesan web pages devoted to the topic of religious liberty.

The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston offers several videos regarding religious freedom on its website. Deacon Sam Dunning, Director of the Office of Justice and Peace, shares a reflection on the history and importance of religious liberty. Father Dempsey Acosta, C.S.B., and Sister Madeline Grace, C.V.I., both professors at the University of St. Thomas, spoke about some of the saints whose feastdays were celebrated during the Fortnight. Julie Aftab, a client at Catholic Charities of Galveston-Houston, shares her story of being tortured in Pakistan because she refused to denounce her belief in Jesus — and why she treasures religious freedom in the U.S. today. To view these videos and more — including Cardinal DiNardo's homily from a Mass in Galveston during the Fortnight — visit www.archgh.org/conscience-protection and click on "Videos" in the left-hand navigation. 

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have invited Catholics to text "Freedom" or "Libertad" to 377377 to sign up to receive information from the conference regarding religious freedom. Catholics are also encouraged to visit www.Fortnight4Freedom.org for additional resources to learn about the issues of concern.

Consider writing Congress or the Health and Human Services Department to call on protection for conscience rights. For more information, visit www.fortnight4freedom.org or www.archgh.org/conscience-protection

Take time to pray the following "Prayer for Religious Liberty" by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. (For Vietnamese or Spanish translations of the prayer, visit www.archgh.org/conscience-protection.)

O God our Creator, from your provident hand we have received our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. You have called us as your people and given us the right and duty to worship you, the only true God, and your son, Jesus Christ. Through the power and working of your Holy Spirit, you call us to live out our faith in the midst of the world, bringing the light and the saving truth of the Gospel to every corner of society. 
We ask you to bless us in our vigilance for the gift of religious liberty. Give us the strength of mind and heart to readily defend our freedoms when they are threatened; give us courage in making our voices heard on behalf of the rights of your Church and the freedom of consciences of all people of faith. 

Grant, we pray, O heavenly Father, a clear and united voice to all your sons and daughters gathered in your Church in this decisive hour in the history of our nation, so that, with every trial withstood and every danger overcome - for the sake of our children, our grandchildren and all who come after us - this great land will always be "one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.