By editor - 22 June, 2013
The US Catholic bishops’ Fortnight for Freedom initiative promoting awareness of religious liberty and the challenges to it, begins today, Friday, June 21st, on the eve of the feast of St. Thomas More and St John Fisher: models of public service and Church leadership, who were martyred for the faith.
Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, who heads the USCCB’s Committee on Religious Liberty, told Vatican Radio the bishops’ initiative seeks to make a specifically Catholic contribution to an issue that touches the whole people and even reaches beyond the nation. “It’s not just a Catholic issue,” said Archbishop Lori, who also had special thanks for the bishops’ many ecumenical and interfaith partners in the initiative. “It is,” he said, “really an important issue for the good of democracy in the United States and around the world.”
A two-week period of prayer and action focused on the many current challenges to religious liberty, the Fortnight officially opens with a special Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption, celebrated by Archbishop Lori. “How appropriate,” wrote Archbishop Lori on the USCCB website, “that the Fortnight should begin with a nationally televised Mass from our own Basilica of the Assumption, the first Catholic cathedral in the United States.”
Archbishop Lori went on to discuss the profound American roots of the quintessentially Catholic venue for the Fortnight’s opening, noting that the third President of the United States and principal author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson assisted in the “uniquely American” design of Assumption Basilica, which was conceived by the architect principally responsible for the design of the U.S. Capitol, Benjamin Latrobe.
“The Basilica,” said Archbishop Lori, “is the embodiment of what it means to be both Catholic and American, the intersection of faith and public life that is at the very heart of the Fortnight for Freedom.”