In just a few weeks our country will celebrate the Fourth of July, the founding of our country when we were granted freedoms, among them our religious freedom. Four years ago the U.S. Bishops began a Fortnight for Freedom to bring greater awareness of this freedom and of contemporary threats to this freedom in our country and to encourage Catholics to stand united in prayer and in our moral teachings. This year we will celebrate the Fortnight for Freedom from Sunday, June 21 through Saturday, July 4.
The theme this year is Fortnight for Freedom: Freedom to Bear Witness, which calls us to focus on the truth of the Gospel, and calls us to serve the poor and vulnerable according to the Church’s teaching. It is increasingly difficult for us to exercise our religious freedoms in the public square. The threats we face are best illustrated in the limitations upon the Church in its outreach to families, immigrants, victims of human trafficking, the infirm and the needy because of our unwillingness to provide what is contrary to our moral teaching and conscience.
From June 21 through July 4, I encourage the faithful to be keenly aware of and stand firm in countering threats that are weakening our treasured right to practice and live our faith. There are many resources available at www.fortnight4freedom.org to understand the threats to religious freedom we face here in our country but also around the world. We also have prayer resources, reflections and other resources on our diocesan website at www.diocesepb.org/fortnight2015.
Pope Francis has stated, “Religious freedom is not only that of private thought or worship. It is the liberty to live, both privately and publicly, according to the ethical principles resulting from found truth” (June 20, 2014). More than once the Pope has said he draws strength praying the rosary and from praying before the Blessed Sacrament. During the Fortnight for Freedom: Freedom to Bear Witness, I encourage you to offer your prayers of thanksgiving for our nation and our religious liberty. I also encourage all Catholics to spend time in Eucharistic Adoration as well as to pray the rosary asking our Blessed Mother for her intercession in preserving our religious freedoms.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Gerald M. Barbarito
Bishop of Palm Beach