The campaign, now in its second year, is a project of the United States Conference of Bishops in Washington, D.C., and is being spearheaded by former Bridgeport Bishop William Lori, now archbishop in Baltimore. The conference lists 14 ways individual parishes might participate.
The Archdiocese of Hartford said the campaign begins on the feast day of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More, “two martyrs who gave their lives for faith and religion,” and ends on the Fourth of July. Maria Zone, spokeswoman for the Hartford Archdiocese, listed some of the parish observances scheduled:
- St. Mary Church in Branford, praying the rosary weekdays at 7:30 a.m.
- St. Margaret Church in Madison, prayers for religious freedom weekdays after the 7:45 a.m. Mass
- St. Francis of Assisi in Naugatuck, prayer service with Eucharistic Adoration for religious liberty on June 28 at 6:30 p.m.
- St. Rita in Hamden, vigil Mass for the Feast of St. Thomas More and Saint John Fisher on Friday at 6:30 p.m., along with extended adoration from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday, June 24, and showing of the movie, “For Greater Glory,” on Tuesday, July 2, at 7 p.m.
In addition, Hartford Archbishop Henry J. Mansell will celebrate the televised daily Mass, The Celebration of the Eucharist, on WCCT-TV on Sunday at 10 a.m. as part of the Fortnight observance.
A release from the archdiocese said:
“Catholics from across the United States are being asked to focus on prayer, special devotions, catechetical sessions, and advocacy gatherings dedicated to the preservation of religious freedom and to rebuilding a culture favorable to life and marriage and for increased protections of religious liberty. The initiative, ‘Call to Prayer for Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty’ hopes to garner support to overturn the federal health care mandate.
According to the archbishop, never before in the history of our country has the federal government assaulted our First Amendment right to freedom of religion as it is doing currently. The health care mandate will require that Catholic organizations and others pay for employee insurance that would cover abortion-inducing drugs, contraception and sterilization – all practices that go against our religious convictions. The mandate goes into effect on August 1, 2013.”
The U.S. bishops have been lobbying for exemptions for Catholic schools, hospitals, charities and other Catholic institutions. “Right now,” the Hartford Archdiocese said, a “very narrow exemption only applies to churches, their staffs, and to schools that teach only Catholic students.
Mansell is quoted in the release:
“This is not a Catholic issue, not a Jewish issue, not an Orthodox, Mormon, or Muslim issue. It is an American issue. The passage of this mandate has dangerous implications for all religions. If we permit the government to have the final say on what type of health care coverage a religious organization must provide, we are basically enabling them to interfere in all religious liberty concerns.”
Brian Wallace, spokesman for the Bridgeport Diocese, said pastors at their 82 parishes are being encouraged to mark the observance in a variety of ways, such as discussing it in homilies. Here are two examples from that diocese:
- St. Rose of Lima, Newtown: Eucharistic Adoration on June 27, with prayers at 6 p.m., silence at 7 p.m., a “patriotic rosary” at 8 p.m. and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament at 9 p.m.
- Basilica of St. John the Evangelist, Stamford: Eucharistic Adoration, with special prayers, each Monday.