PORTLAND, Maine — Catholic bishops are taking their fight with the Obama administration over the requirement that contraceptives be offered to enrollees in all health care plans to Maine parishes this summer.
Bishop Richard Malone, head of the Roman Catholic diocese of Portland, announced Friday that churches in Maine would take part in the nationwide “Fortnight for Freedom — a great hymn of prayer for our country” between June 21 and July 4.
The fortnight was established in response to numerous recent actions taken by the government that interfere or prevent institutions and individuals from acting in accordance with their deeply held moral beliefs, according to the press release issued by Marc Mutty, public policy director of the diocese.
That two-week period includes the memorials of Saints Thomas More and John Fisher, martyrs described as “remaining faithful in the face of persecution by political power.” Both men opposed King Henry VIII’s break with the Roman Catholic Church. They were canonized together on June 22, 1935, by Pope Pius XI.
“Religious liberty is not only about our ability to go to Mass on Sunday or to pray the rosary at home,” Malone said in the press release. “It is about whether we can continue to make our contribution to the common good of all Americans without violating our deeply-held moral beliefs.
“This issue affects all Americans — it is not a Catholic issue, a Jewish issue, an Orthodox, Mormon, or Muslim issue,” he said. “It is an American issue.”
The fortnight will focus on education and awareness, the press release said. Special events are planned to highlight the importance of defending religious liberty. A special Mass will be celebrated by Malone at 12:15 p.m. Monday, July 2, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland.
Other possible events may include bell ringing by all churches, displaying of flags by faithful Catholics and ecumenical discussions on religious freedom, according to the press release.
Any public action would be nonconfrontational, according to Malone.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops announced the fortnight campaign last month in a 12-page document titled “Our First, Most Cherished Liberty.” It was written by the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty.
Malone is not a member of the group.