The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops previously called on Catholics to observe a Fortnight for Freedom from Thursday through July 4 to promote the protection of religious freedom in the United States.
The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend will hold two special events in observance of the bishops' call:
•Bishop John M. D'Arcy, diocesan bishop emeritus, will celebrate Mass at 7 p.m. Friday at St. Matthew Cathedral in South Bend.
•Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades will celebrate Mass at 5 p.m. June 30 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in downtown Fort Wayne.
U.S. bishops issued the call for prayer and other activities during the Fortnight for Freedom largely in response to provisions in the new health-care reform law. The bishops oppose rules that would require many religious institutions serving the public to offer contraception, abortion and sterilization in health care insurance benefits for their employees.
People are asked to pray and do penance to help restore religious freedom and freedom of conscience in this country, it says on the U.S. Bishops' website, www.usccb.org. People also are asked write their U.S. congressional representatives and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to voice opposition to the health-care requirements affecting religious institutions.
In addition, U.S. Bishops urge people to educate themselves on the issue and to write their congressional representatives to encourage passage of the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act. The proposed law would “ensure that those who participate in the market for health insurance 'retain the right to provide, purchase or enroll in health coverage that is consistent with their religious beliefs and moral convictions,'” the U.S. bishops' website said.