Freedom is a precious word enshrined in the U.S. Constitution protecting one of Americans’ most important rights: practicing one’s faith.
In the face of many threats to the country’s religious freedom, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is asking for a period of prayer, fasting and advocacy for the right to witness to the Gospel.
This is the fourth year Catholics and non-Catholics alike are asked to participate in Fortnight for Freedom from June 21 to July 4. Parishes and community groups may recognize the initiative by holding a candlelight vigil, hosting a religious-themed concert, holding a panel discussion or march for religious freedom.
Archbishop Samuel Aquila will give a special address on Catholic Radio Network, KRCN 1060 AM, during Fortnight. From 3:30 p.m.-4 p.m. June 24, the archbishop will speak to thousands of listeners across the Front Range from the radio station.
In Rome, Pope Francis has also spoken about religious freedom. He said freedom should not be limited to private homes and excluded from the public square.
“Religious freedom is not only that of private thought or worship. It is the liberty to live, both privately and publicly, according to the ethical principles resulting from found truth,” Pope Francis said June 20, 2014.
The USCCB began Fortnight for Freedom in 2012 and archdioceses nationwide participated through interfaith prayer services, rallies, conferences and meetings. In the Archdiocese of Denver, Archbishop Aquila celebrated a Mass last year and called all faithful to prayer and action for religious freedom worldwide. In previous years, hundreds of Coloradans gathered at the state Capitol to pray with the archbishop for state political leaders.
This year’s theme is focusing on the “Freedom to Bear Witness” to the truth of Christ and live according to one’s faith. It’s also an opportunity to celebrate the great martyrs of the Church, who remained faithful while in the face of persecution by political powers. Such saints include St. Thomas More, St. John Fisher, St. John the Baptist, Sts. Peter and Paul and the early martyrs of Rome.
The initiative is expected to coincide with two important rulings regarding same-sex unions and the federal Health and Human Services mandate. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule in June on the mandate requiring free contraceptives for women and on a case regarding the constitutionality of “marriages” between persons of the same sex.
How to celebrate Fortnight for Freedom
• Hold a candlelight vigil
• Sponsor a religious concert
• Organize a procession or march
• Host a panel discussion
• Show the film “For Greater Glory” or “A Man for All Seasons”
Visit www.fortnight4freedom.org for resources.
Panel discussion: Are the doors closing on religious Freedom in the United States?
7 p.m. June 24, St. Thomas More Church, Centennial
Panelists include Deacon Alan Rastrelli, M.D., Jenny Kraska of the Colorado Catholic Conference and Nicolle Martin, an Alliance Defending Freedom attorney.
Independence Day Mass and celebration
7:30 a.m. July 4, St. Thomas More Church, Centennial
Pope Francis on religious freedom
“In today’s world, religious freedom is more often affirmed than put into practice.
[Defending religious liberty] guarantees the growth and development of the entire community.” – June 8, 2013
“We must promote religious liberty for all people. Every man and woman must be free to profess his or her faith, whatever it may be. Why? Because that man and that woman are children of God.” – May 20, 2013