By Marnie McAllister, Record Assistant Editor
The Archdiocese of Louisville and dioceses across the nation will observe the third annual Fortnight for Freedom — a campaign to promote religious liberty — June 21 to July 4.
The theme of this year’s celebration is “Freedom to Serve.” It will center on “the link between religious liberty and service to the poor and vulnerable,” according to a press release from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), which organizes the observance.
“People who value their Catholic faith will understand that there is an organic connection between what we believe and how we practice our faith in service well beyond the borders of the church,” said Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore. “We want to be able to practice it unabashedly, whether in church or in the workplace or as part of church ministry. We don’t think we should have to compromise our beliefs in order to observe.”
As chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, Archbishop Lori has been involved with the fortnight movement from the beginning. Originally stemming from a 12-page statement released by the committee in June 2012 titled, “Our First, Most Cherished Liberty,” the fortnight aims to protect religious liberties from government infringement.
For the Catholic Church, chief among threats to religious freedom is the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ mandate that most employers, including Catholic hospitals, schools and charities, provide insurance coverage for contraceptives, sterilization and some abortion-inducing drugs.
Archbishop Lori will open this year’s fortnight with Mass June 21 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore.
After two weeks dedicated to prayer, study, catechesis and public action, this year’s program will end with Mass celebrated by Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington on July 4.
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, who is president of the USCCB, will be the homilist at the Independence Day Mass.
The Mass will air at 12:10 p.m. that day through EWTN on The Faith Channel. Parishes in the Archdiocese of Louisville are encouraged to gather for a luncheon and viewing of the Mass.
In the archdiocese, St. Christopher Church in Radcliff, Ky., will continue its tradition of holding eucharistic adoration during the Fortnight.
On June 27, the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the parish plans to provide special music at 9 a.m. followed by exposition of the Blessed Sacrament all day and into the night.
At 3 a.m., June 28, the parish will pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy followed by a candlelight procession around the church property. It will conclude with Benediction.
The archdiocese distributed materials to pastors and parishes late last month to help in planning other celebrations. Resources include plans for a Holy Hour, prayers of the faithful, a “Litany for Liberty” and homily suggestions.
The resources also include brief educational information for use in bulletins. And a 14-page study guide is available to those who want to read “Dignitatis Humanae,” the Second Vatican Council’s declaration on religious freedom.
These materials are available in Spanish and English on the archdiocese’s website www.archlou.org/liberty.
Catholic News Service contributed to this story.