WASHINGTON—The U.S. Catholic bishopshave launched a pastoral strategy addressing critical life, marriage and religiousliberty concerns. The five-part strategy or call to prayer was approved by thebishops in November and is set to begin after Christmas. The overall focus isto invite Catholics to pray for rebuilding a culture favorable to life and marriage and for increasedprotections of religious liberty.
Campaigncomponents include monthly Eucharistic holy hours in cathedrals and parishes,daily family rosary, special Prayers of the Faithful at all Masses, fasting andabstinence on Fridays, and the second observance of a Fortnight for Freedom.
Thecall to prayer is prompted by the rapid social movements and policy changes currentlyunderway, such as the mandate by the U.S. Department of Health and HumanServices that coerces employers, including heads of religious agencies, to payfor sterilizations, abortion-inducing drugs and contraceptives, as well asincreased efforts to redefine marriage.
"Thepastoral strategy is essentially a call and encouragement to prayer andsacrifice—it's meant to be simple," said Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of SanFrancisco, chairman of the bishops' Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defenseof Marriage. "It's not meant to be another program but rather part of a movementfor Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty, which engages the New Evangelizationand can be incorporated into the Year of Faith. Life, Marriage, and ReligiousLiberty are not only foundational to Catholic social teaching but alsofundamental to the good of society," he said.
Detailsof the strategy follow:
1.Startingwith the Sunday after Christmas (Feast of the Holy Family) and continuing on ornear the last Sunday of every month through Christ the King Sunday, November2013, cathedrals and parishes are encouraged to hold a Eucharistic Holy Hour for Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty.
2.Familiesand individuals are encouraged to pray adaily Rosary, especially for the preservation of Life, Marriage, and ReligiousLiberty in the nation.
3.AtSunday and daily Masses, it is encouraged that the Prayers of the Faithful include specific intentions for respect forall human life from conception to natural death, the strengthening of marriageand family life, and the preservation of religious liberty at all levels of government, bothat home and abroad.
4.Abstinencefrom meat and fasting on Fridays areencouraged for the intention of the protection of Life, Marriage, and ReligiousLiberty, recognizing the importance of spiritual and bodily sacrifice in thelife of the Church.
5.Thecelebration of a second Fortnight forFreedom at the end of June and the beginning of July 2013 is being planned.This Fortnight would emphasize faith and marriage in a particular way in theface of the potential Supreme Court rulings during this time. The Fortnight would also emphasize the need forconscience protection in light of the August 1, 2013 deadline for religiousorganizations to comply with the HHS mandate, as well as religious freedomconcerns in other areas, such as immigration, adoption, and humanitarianservices.
A website with resources from the USCCB is available at: www.usccb.org/life-marriage-liberty.
"With the challenges this country is facing, it is hoped that thiscall to prayer and penance will help build awareness among the faithful as wellas spiritual stamina and courage for effective witness. We also hope that itwill encourage solidarity with all people who are standing for the preciousgifts of life, marriage, and religious liberty," Archbishop Cordileone said.
Keywords: Archbishop SalvatoreCordileone, Fortnight for Freedom, abstinence fasting, Rosary, Holy Hour,defense of marriage, Defense of Marriage Act, DOMA, Health and Human Services,Catholic, USCCB, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
# # # # #MEDIACONTACT ONLY:Sr. Mary Ann WalshO: 202-541-3200M: 301-325-7935Email
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