Prayers for Religious Liberty

Demonstrators participate in a “Stand Up for Religious Freedom” rally near the offices of U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand in Melville, L.I.

WASHINGTON (CNS) – The U.S. bishops urged Catholics and “all people of faith” across the nation to observe March 30 as a day of prayer and fasting for religious freedom and conscience protection.
The bishops announced the day-long observance in a statement titled “United for Religious Freedom” that was approved by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Administrative Committee.
They asked Catholics and others to join them in “prayer and penance for our leaders and for the complete protection of our first freedom – religious liberty – which is not only protected in the laws and customs of our great nation, but rooted in the teachings of our great tradition.”
The bishops said that among current threats to religious liberty is the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services mandate that forces employers, including religious ones, to provide coverage of contraception/sterilization in their health plans.
Prayer resources have been posted on the USCCB website, www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/conscience-protection/resources-on-conscience-protection.cfm.
Also, “Prayer for Religious Liberty” prayer cards are available as a downloadable PDF file. The cards are available in English and Spanish, and feature three different images: Mary as the Immaculate Conception, patroness of the U.S.; Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas and the unborn; and St. Thomas More, the patron saint of the legal profession who was martyred for standing up for his religious beliefs.
In a letter about the day of prayer addressed to Catholics in their state, Pennsylvania’s bishops said the observance was planned in response “to the assault by the federal government on constitutionally guaranteed religious liberty.” They, too, cited the federal contraceptive mandate, saying it “punished the church for its firmly held beliefs and consistent teaching.”

Editor’s Note: Bulk packages of “Prayer for Religious Liberty” prayer cards will soon be available. They can be ordered at www.usccbpublishing.org and will be ready for shipping in April.