Liturgical significance of the “Fortnight for Freedom”

I’m out of the country right now visiting my in-laws in Mexico. They don’t have wifi! So my posting may be a bit lighter the next few weeks as I cobble together trips in search of internet.

Before I left town a reader commented on coverage of the Fortnight for Freedom:

I haven’t had the time to keep up with current affairs due to work and family, but I’m not sure if any reporters have drawn attention to the fact that the Fortnight for Freedom starts on the feastday for Sts. Thomas More and John Fisher, natural patrons for a struggle against govermental encroachments on the Church.

Yes, I think reporters were a bit too busy running with the narrative that the bishops are a secret GOP front group. (Let’s please not talk about their stance on immigration reform, OK? Or the non-bishops who are opposed to the HHS mandate. It just doesn’t support the meme we’re going for.)

Anywho, our dear reader is wrong. And it gives me a perfect opportunity to point readers to the Louisville Courier-Journal‘s Faith and Works blog, run by Peter Smith. I love this blog, and not just because I love all religion blogs. But this one has really interesting takes on all sorts of things. Here’s something on the Supreme Court decision banning school prayer turning 50 years old. Here’s something on the Presbyterian Church (USA) membership dipping below two million. And here’s how he began a (somewhat weak, actually) piece on the Fortnight For Freedom:

Bishops, priests and other Roman Catholics who say religious liberty is under mortal threat are raising the alarm through a two-week series prayers, vigils, “patriotic rosary” recitals and tributes to Catholic martyrs.

Catholic leaders have been promoting the national campaign — called the “Fortnight for Freedom” — with pamphlets and Web pages emblazoned in red-white-and-blue lettering. It began Thursday with activities in conjunction with the vigil to Catholic martyrs of the English Reformation era.

If you click on the link, you’ll see he was on top of this connection to the religious liberty effort well over a month ago. Here’s another reference to the feast days in a Tulsa media outlet. And none other than the New York Times got a mention in there, too. So not too many examples, but a nice cross section.

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  • Ann Rodgers

    Something I wanted to get into my blog post of odds-and-ends from the bishops’ conference was Cardinal George’s advice to his fellow bishops about St. Thomas More. Alas I ran out of time. Here’s the gist of it:
    After a speech from a layman that invoked More as a hero of religious freedom, Cardinal George stood to offer a cautionary note. He pointed out that, before he became a martyr himself, More had deprived others of their freedom of conscience by persecuting those with dissenting beliefs. George suggested that it could be problematic for the bishops to lean too heavily on More’s example on this issue.

  • Bill

    The story line in much of the press is that the HHS mandate is no big deal to most Catholics. But at our rural Texas church, the subject of the homily at last Saturday’s evening Mass was the Fortnight of Freedom and Christian martyrs, including More and that fine Lutheran lad, Bonhoeffer. Emphasis was on John the Baptist as the first Christian martyr. The priest acknowledged that we are not faced with anything resembling that kind of threat, but suggested that when a ruler unjustly pushes religious liberty aside, the faithful should push back. The congregation responded with enthusiastic applause.

  • Thomas A. Szyszkiewicz

    My friend Phil Lawler posted this yesterday on a blog called The City Gates:

    A friend just contacted me: a reporter for a secular media outlet. At an editorial conference, he had suggested some coverage of the Fortnight for Freedom, and drawn blank stares from his colleagues. Fortnight for what? None of the other reporters or news editors had heard anything about the bishops’ initiative. None of the local newspapers had carried any coverage. It wasn’t in the TV or radio news reports.

    Are the secular news outlets ignoring this story? Absolutely. But there’s something more to it than that.

    This particular news outlet had not received anything from local Church officials. No official statements. No press releases. No notices of coming events. Nothing from the local diocesan offices. Nothing from the state Catholic conference. Nothing from the bishops. Nothing from the Catholic universities in the region. Nothing.

    In the Catholic media, the Fortnight for Freedom is big news. Unfortunately, the people who pay attention to the Catholic media are not, by and large, the people who need to be convinced. We’re preaching to the choir. In order for this initiative to be successful, the news must reach the general public, and that will require working with the secular media as well. On the national level, Cardinal Dolan and Archbishop Lori and the US bishops’ conference have been doing their best to focus public attention on the threats to religious freedom. But they need help from the local dioceses. All of them.

    Need anyone say more?

  • Julia

    There was a big story in my local paper with 3 large photos of a public march from the cathedral after a kick-off liturgy to the county building to start it off.

  • JC

    If only there was someone with a passion for these issues, an outstanding written talent, and experience working with the press who could act as a counterpart of sorts to Faith in Public life by providing the press with valuable information on these matters as they arise…

  • Julia


    Greg Burke, late of FOX News, has been hired to advise the decision makers in the Vatican on how to present a unified and useful message to the press. At the recent USCCB meeting there was discussion that the US bishops need something similar.