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My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Christ is among us! He is and always will be!

The Catholic Bishops of the United States have called for a Fortnight for Freedom, a two-week period of prayer, fasting, and public action in support of religious freedom in our country. Beginning on 21 June and ending on the 4th of July—American Independence Day—we are calling upon American Catholics and all people of goodwill to defend and protect religious liberty—the first and most cherished freedom of our Bill of Rights. What we ask, and what all Americans should ask, is nothing more than that our God-given right to religious liberty be respected. We ask nothing less than that our Constitution and the laws of the United States, which recognize that right, be respected.

As Melkite Catholics, sadly we are not strangers to the persecution of our Church in the lands from which we have come, or to the experience of being reduced to the status of second-class citizens because of our Christian faith. How many of our people have come to America precisely for the freedom to practice their faith! This experience should stir us to a robust and unrelenting defense of our right as Americans to religious freedom and conscience protection. In America, religious liberty has been something we have taken for granted. However, today, in this country, our precious right to freedom of religion is under attack by members of the very government sworn to defend it. This is a decisive moment in America. That is why the Catholic Bishops of the United States are committed to focusing “all the energies the Catholic community can muster” on the defense of religious liberty.

My brothers and sisters, during this Fortnight for Freedom, we ask that you pray the Prayer for Religious Liberty printed in your parish bulletin each day, and that, as we are in the time of the Apostles Fast, you offer your sacrifices for the restoration of religious liberty in our country. In addition, we call on you, as American Catholics, to make your voices heard in civic and political life in defense of the Christian principles upon which our country was founded. Finally, let us entrust all our prayers and efforts to God, that His mighty hand may preserve the United States of America as “one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

With my prayers and blessing for you and for our country, I remain
Yours truly in Christ our God,

Most Reverend Nicholas J. Samra
Bishop of Newton

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FORTNIGHT FOR FREEDOM
17 June - 4 July


Please print in the parish bulletin on the following Sundays: 17 June, 24 June, and 1 July.

Prayer for Religious Liberty

GOD OUR CREATOR, from Your provident hand we have received our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. You have called us as Your people and given us the right and the duty to worship You, the only true God, and Your Son, Jesus Christ. Through the power and working of Your Holy Spirit, You call us to live out our faith in the midst of the world, bringing the light and the saving truth of the Gospel to every corner of society.

We ask You to bless us in our vigilance for the gift of religious liberty. Give us the strength of mind and heart to readily defend our freedoms when they are threatened; give us courage in making our voices heard on behalf of the rights of Your Church and the freedom of conscience of all people of faith.

Grant, we pray, O heavenly Father, a clear and united voice to all Your sons and daughters gathered in Your Church in this decisive hour in the history of our nation, so that, with every trial withstood and every danger overcome—for the sake of our children, our grandchildren, and all who come after us—this great land will always be “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

For You are good, O our God, and You love mankind, and we give glory to You, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and always and forever and ever. Amen.

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Ecumenic Prayer

To be inserted after the second petition on 17 June, 24 June, and 1 July.
Have mercy, O God, upon America and all its people, that it may be ever vigilant in defending and protecting religious freedom, we pray to You, hear us and have mercy.

Lord, have mercy (thrice).

Again and again, we pray for our President and all our elected leaders, that they may respect our God-given freedom of conscience and religion.

Lord, have mercy (thrice).

Again, we pray for the Church in America, and all religious institutions, that they may stand firm in resisting all who seek to compel them to violate their religious beliefs.

Lord, have mercy (thrice).

 

From the Melkite Chancery, June 8, 2012

https://melkite.org/eparchy/letter-to-melkite-faithful-on-fortnight-for-freedom