Catholics encouraged to pray for religious freedom

By Catholic Spirit Staff

Catholic dioceses and parishes across the U.S. are once again encouraged to raise awareness for domestic and international religious freedom concerns during the third annual Fortnight for Freedom, June 21-July 4. 
The two-week celebration will focus on the theme, “Freedom to Serve,” emphasizing the link between religious liberty and service to the poor and vulnerable.
“During the Fortnight, our liturgical calendar celebrates great martyrs who remained faithful in the face of persecution by political power: St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More, John the Baptist, Peter and Paul and the first martyrs of the Church of Rome,” said Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). 
“This is a time when Catholics can unite themselves in prayer to the men and women throughout history who spread the Gospel and lived out Jesus’ call to serve the ‘least of these’ in even the direst of circumstances,” he said.
With this theme in mind, the Diocese of Austin invites all Catholics to participate in service opportunities available during the Fortnight for Freedom. Parishes, Catholic schools and Catholic organizations have been invited to offer special opportunities for service and these will be posted at www.austindiocese.org/fortnightforfreedom as they come in.
Marie Cehovin, diocesan director of Pro-Life Activities and Chaste Living, said this year’s theme in particular is an important reminder of what religious liberty looks like. 
“We are not only asking that our right to worship be respected, but we also ask respect for our right to put our faith into action. At the core of our faith is service to others, and especially during this year’s Fortnight for Freedom, we want to take this opportunity to show our community what freedom of religion means to us, the freedom to serve,” she said.
Catholics are encouraged to share their experiences and photos on Facebook and Twitter using the tag “#free2serve.” They can also be shared and viewed at trycapsule.com/free2serve. 
Some of the recommended activities for parishes include giving a homily on religious freedom is given on either the weekend of June 21-22 or June 28-29, encouraging all Catholics to pray the rosary each day during the two-week period and to fast or make an appropriate act of reparation, such as meatless Fridays or a fast day on Wednesdays. The Novena for religious freedom is also available on the diocesan Fortnight for Freedom page (see link below).
All parishes are also encouraged to incorporate a prayer for the protection of religious liberty during liturgically appropriate times when Mass is celebrated during the Fortnight for Freedom. 
Parishioners are also encouraged to sign up for the U.S. bishops’ texting campaign on religious freedom through by texting the word “Freedom” to 377377. This will help keep Catholics informed of what is going on at the national level.
These materials and more information on the Fortnight and related issues can be found at 
www.fortnight4freedom.org or at www.austindiocese.org/fortnightforfreedom.

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