U.S. Catholic dioceses are celebrating a Fortnight for Freedom, a 14-day period of prayer, education and action in support of religious freedom, June 21-July 4. The fortnight events connect to recent religious freedom conflicts between Catholic groups and the Obama administration's health care law.
The Most Rev. Michael F. Burbidge, bishop of the Catholic diocese of Raleigh, will kick off the Fortnight for Freedom with Mass at 6 p.m. Thursday (June 21) at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Raleigh.
In a letter to parishioners, Burbidge said, “While this freedom is guaranteed in the Constitution of our country, it can never be taken for granted. Religious liberty is such that it must always be exercised as we pray, witness and educate ourselves on its meaning and its value in our lives as citizens, especially in light of the recent Health and Human Services mandate, which will force us as a diocese to violate the moral teachings of our church.”
Last week, at their annual spring meeting in Atlanta, the bishops unanimously approved a statement issued by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Administrative Committee, of which Burbidge is a member, according to a diocesan press release.
“United for Religious Freedom” describes the bishops as “strongly unified and intensely focused in...opposition to the various threats to religious freedom in our day,” and explains that the HHS mandate “demands our immediate attention.” The bishops’ document identifies three basic problems with the mandate: “an unwarranted government definition of religion,” “a mandate to act against our teachings,” and “a violation of personal civil rights.”
A few local parishes are also hosting Fortnight of Freedom events:
Sacred Heart of Jesus Church, Whiteville and Our Lady of the Snows Church, Elizabethtown
All Masses celebrated during the Fortnight will be for the intention of Religious Freedom. The Recitation of the rosary will be prayed prior to each Mass. The Knights of Columbus and parishioners will display the American flags in front of the church. Details: 910-642-3895
St. Therese Church, Wrightsville Beach
The parish will sponsor a discussion on religious liberty, Wednesday, June 27 from 7:00‐8:30 PM, reviewing the USCCB’s documents on religious freedom and the current tension between the U.S. bishops and the U.S. government. Details: 910-256-2471
- Amanda Greene