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Worcester Diocese to participate in 2nd Fortnight for Freedom

Posted By June 6, 2013 | 1:15 pm | Lead Story #3
As a reminder that our religious liberty should not be taken for granted, the U.S. bishops have planned a second Fortnight for Freedom, a 14-day period of prayer and fasting. “The Fortnight for Freedom provides us with an opportunity to unite in prayer and action and renew our conviction to defend our God-given right to religious liberty,” said Allison LeDoux who is coordinating efforts in the diocese and is director of the diocesan Office of Marriage and Family and the Respect Life Office.

By Jessica Valera
CFP Correspondent

As a reminder that our religious liberty should not be taken for granted, the U.S. bishops have planned a second Fortnight for Freedom, a 14-day period of prayer and fasting.
“The Fortnight for Freedom provides us with an opportunity to unite in prayer and action and renew our conviction to defend our God-given right to religious liberty,” said Allison LeDoux who is coordinating efforts in the diocese and is director of the diocesan Office of Marriage and Family and the Respect Life Office.
The  second annual nationwide Fortnight will be held from June 21 to July 4. It calls all the faithful to prayer, action, and study regarding the serious threats to religious liberty that the country currently faces.
Immediate threats to religious liberty, as noted on the bishops’ website, www.usccb.org, include the Aug.  1 deadline for religious organizations to comply with the HHS contraception mandate; Supreme Court rulings that could redefine marriage which are expected in the month of June, and concerns in areas such as immigration and humanitarian services.         The diocese has several special events planned for the 14-day period to address the challenges to religious liberty, according to Mrs. Ledoux.
To open the Fortnight, all are invited to join Bishop McManus for Solemn Vespers at 7 p.m., Friday, June 21 in St. Paul Cathedral to unite the diocese in fervent prayer to invoke the Lord’s help in safeguarding fundamental religious liberties.
The second diocesan-wide event is near the end of the second week of the Fortnight. Bishop McManus will preside at a special Mass for Religious Freedom at 7 p.m., Monday, July 1 at St. Stephen Church, 355 Grafton St., Worcester. Mass will be followed by light refreshments and a special presentation on Saint Thomas More by Attorney Frances X. Hogan downstairs in the church hall. Once again, all are invited to attend. Saint Thomas More was martyred for standing up for his Catholic faith against the English government.
With several opportunities to engage in the Fortnight for Freedom in the diocese, personal participation is being encouraged.
“Through our two diocesan events, the Solemn Vespers on June 21 and the Mass for Religious Liberty on July 1, and through initiatives in our local parishes such as holy hours, special prayers at all Masses, rosaries, educational opportunities, as well as personal prayer and study, we encourage all the faithful to participate in the Fortnight for Freedom as much as they can,” Mrs. LeDoux said.
She also asked for parishes to contact her in the Respect Life Office if they are planning any special events or devotions during the Fortnight so that she can help spread the word.
Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, noted the fortnight occurs just weeks before Aug. 1, the date final rules take effect for implementing the federal contraceptive mandate, requiring most employers to provide contraceptive coverage for employees.
The Catholic Church and other faith groups object to the requirement “coercing us to violate our deeply held beliefs,” the archbishop said in a statement.
During the fortnight, the Supreme Court’s decisions on the definition of marriage “will likely be handed down as well,” he added, referring to rulings the court is expected to issue in late June on two same-sex marriage cases. One is a challenge to the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8, a voter-approved initiative banning same-sex marriage, and the other is a challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
“Those decisions could have a profound impact on religious freedom for generations to come,” Archbishop Lori said.
The bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty has produced resources for parishes to assist in educating the faithful on what is at stake and its effects on religious liberty.

– Catholic News Service contributed to this report.