A nationwide "Fortnight for Freedom" will begin Friday, as U.S. bishops call for a period of prayer and fasting to raise awareness of challenges to religious liberty.
The two week period beginning June 21 and running through July 4 echoes an observance held last summer to protest the mandate handed down by the federal Department of Health and Human Services requiring all employers to offer insurance coverage of abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives and sterilization. The mandate went into effect on Aug. 1, 2012 for most employers, and will be implemented for religious organizations on Aug. 1, 2013.
The nation is awaiting an additional threat to religious freedom by the end of June, when the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on two same-sex marriage cases: the constitutionality of California's Proposition 8, and the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
The Fortnight kicks off with Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore celebrating an evening Mass June 21 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary in Baltimore. It will conclude with a noon Mass July 4 to be celebrated by Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in the nation’s capital.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has created a special web page — www.fortnight4freedom.org — containing prayer resources, homilies and fact sheets on religious liberty.
Illinois will participate in the Fortnight with the following events. (More events may be scheduled, so contact your local diocese.)
Archdiocese of Chicago — The Archdiocese will launch the Fortnight with an opening Mass at 4:30 p.m. on Sat., June 22, at St. Thomas More Parish at 2825 W. 81st St., Chicago. A Religious Liberty dinner will follow in Donlan Hall at a cost of $10 per person. Peter Breen of the Thomas More Society will give the keynote address. To register for the dinner, call 773-436-4444.
St. Peter's in the Loop at 110 W. Madison St., Chicago, will celebrate a special "Fortnight for Freedom" Mass at 12:15 p.m. on Mon., June 24, followed by a Eucharistic procession to Federal Plaza.
Diocese of Joliet — The diocese developed a plan calling for prayer, study and action, and sent a list of resources to all pastors.
Diocese of Peoria — Bishop Jenky has written a letter to all Catholics in the diocese, encouraging them to observe the "Fortnight for Freedom." Read the letter in English and Spanish.
Diocese of Rockford — The diocese has created a special web page with multiple resources for pastors and parishioners.
It will also host a "Fortnight for Freedom" event looking at the defense of marriage featuring Deacon Richard F. Hudzik at 7 p.m. Wed., June 26, at Cathedral of St. Peter Fellowship Hall, 1243 N. Church St., Rockford. Seating is limited, so register by Mon., June 24 by calling 815-965-2765 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Diocese of Springfield — Bishop Thomas John Paprocki will kick off the Fortnight with a Mass at 4 p.m. on Sat., June 22, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, 524 E. Lawrence Ave., Springfield.
Bishop Paprocki will also lead a prayer rally at noon on Wed., July 3, at the Lincoln Capitol Statue located at the intersection of South Second Street and East Capitol Avenue.