Published June 4, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C.— The U.S. Catholic bishops have launched a pastoral strategy to address critical life, marriage and religious liberty concerns. The call to prayer, a five-part strategy, approved by the bishops in November, began Jan. 1. The overall focus is to invite Catholics to pray for rebuilding a culture favorable to life and marriage and for increased protections of religious liberty.
Campaign components include monthly Eucharistic holy hours in parishes, daily family rosary, special Prayers of the Faithful at all Masses, fasting and abstinence on Fridays, and the second observance of a Fortnight for Freedom.
The call to prayer is prompted by the rapid social movements and policy changes currently underway, such as the mandate by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that coerces employers, including heads of religious agencies, to pay for sterilizations, abortion-inducing drugs and contraceptives, as well as increased efforts to redefine marriage.
Beginning with the Sunday after Christmas (the Feast of the Holy Family) and continuing on or near the last Sunday of every month through Christ the King Sunday, November 2013, parishes are encouraged to hold a Eucharistic Holy Hour for Life, Marriage and Religious Liberty.
Families and individuals are encouraged to pray a daily rosary, especially for the preservation of life, marriage and religious liberty in the nation.
At Sunday and daily Masses, parishes are encouraged to include in the Prayers of the Faithful specific intentions for respect for all human life from conception to natural death, the strengthening of marriage and family life, and the preservation of religious liberty at all levels of government, both at home and abroad.
Catholics are encouraged to abstain from meat and fast on Fridays for the intention of the protection of life, marriage and religious liberty, recognizing the importance of spiritual and bodily sacrifice in the life of the church.
A second Fortnight for Freedom is being planned for the end of June and the beginning of July 2013. This event will emphasize faith and marriage in a particular way in the face of the potential Supreme Court rulings during this time. The Fortnight for Freedom will also emphasize the need for conscience protection in light of the Aug. 1, 2013, deadline for religious organizations to comply with the HHS mandate, as well as religious freedom concerns in other areas, such as immigration, adoption and humanitarian services.