Background of the Call to Prayer

“The pastoral strategy is essentially a call and encouragement to prayer and sacrifice - it's meant to be simple. ... Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty are not only foundational to Catholic social teaching but also fundamental to the good of society."

- Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone, Archbishop of San Francisco from the 2012 news release announcing the Call to Prayer (En Espanol)


In December 2012, the U.S. Catholic bishops launched a spiritual strategy addressing critical life, marriage and religious liberty concerns. In November 2013, the full body of bishops renewed the Call to Prayer to continue in alignment with the 2013-2016 strategic plan. The focus of the Call to Prayer is to invite Catholics to pray and sacrifice for rebuilding a culture favorable to life and marriage and for increased protections of religious liberty. A one-page handout is available here.

The Call to Prayer was 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 almost all employers to cover sterilizations, abortion-inducing drugs and contraceptives in their health plans, as well as increasing efforts to redefine marriage in the law.

The original strategy, which continues to guide the bishops’ Call to Prayer, included the following components:

  1. Cathedrals and parishes are encouraged to hold a Eucharistic Holy Hour for Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty on the last Sunday of each month or at a time that works best for the parish.
  2. Families and individuals are encouraged to pray a daily Rosary, especially for the preservation of Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty in the nation.
  3. At Sunday and daily Masses, it is encouraged that the Prayers of the Faithful include 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.
  4. Abstinence from meat and fasting on Fridays are encouraged 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.
  5. The Fortnight for Freedom is planned each summer, emphasizing the need for conscience protection in health care and religious freedom concerns in other areas, such as marriage, immigration, adoption, and humanitarian services.

 “With the challenges this country is facing, it is hoped that this call to prayer and penance will help build awareness among the faithful as well as spiritual stamina and courage for effective witness.”
- Archbishop Cordileone
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