The Roman Catholic Church is using the two weeks running up to the Fourth of July for prayer and advocacy as it continues it's fight against the federal Health and Human Services Department mandate that would force some Catholic institutions to provide health insurance coverage that includes contraception.
In Syracuse, it begins with Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception at 12:10 pm on Thursday, June 21. Bishop Robert Cunningham of the Syracuse diocese says the timing of the "Fortnight for Freedom" is no accident.
"In the Catholic Church calendar it covers the feast of some people who obviously had trouble with civil government. Sir Thomas More and St. John Fisher in England, and St. Peter and Paul in Rome, the first martyrs of the church in Rome. And of course it ends on July Fourth, which is when we celebrate our freedom as a country," said Cunningham.
Cunningham says the issue involves the First Amendment. He says church teachings and traditions are in opposition to contraception and related right-to-life services. And he says this federal mandate would force employees of hospitals, colleges, and other Catholic-based agencies to violate their consciences.
"It's telling us what we have to do and what we have to cover; what services we can perform in institutions which are Catholic. And we believe institutions are part of our ministry," said Cunningham.
Parishes across the diocese are being urged to hold special holy hours devoted to the issue, as well as special intercessions during Mass.