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United States flag at half mast (file photo) United States flag at half mast (file photo) 

US Catholics to celebrate Religious Freedom Week

The Bishops of the United States are calling on American Catholics to pray during the upcoming week for religious freedom, held from 22 to 29 June.

By Vatican News staff writer

"Solidarity in Freedom" is the theme of the annual Religious Freedom Week, which the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is promoting from June 22 to 29.

The reason for the choice of dates is that 22 June marks the liturgical memory of Saints Thomas More and John Fisher, who died defending the primacy of the Roman Pontiff in the dispute over Henry VIII's marriage. 29 June, on the other hand, marks the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Patrons of Rome.

In a message published on their website, the Bishops write that “solidarity means much more than engaging in sporadic acts of generosity. It means thinking and acting in terms of community.”  

Religious freedom, they continue, allows the Church, and all religious communities, to live out their faith in public and to serve the good of all.

Prayer guides

In view of the event, the USCCB has prepared a special prayer subsidy that suggests, for each day of the Week, a specific theme.

On 22 June, prayers will be said for "children waiting to be placed in a loving home"; on 23 June, for all Catholic institutions that, "with wisdom and courage" place themselves at the service of the world affected by the Covid-19 pandemic; on 24 June, prayers will be said for respect for the dignity of all in the United States, while the following day prayers will be dedicated to the conversion of the hearts of those who commit acts of vandalism against the Church.

And again, on 26 June, prayerful thoughts will go to our suffering brothers and sisters in Nicaragua, while on 27 June there will be a plea for respect on the part of the government for "the conscience of all health care workers."

The last two days will be dedicated respectively to Christians and people of all faiths in Iraq, so that they can "live in peace," and to freedom of expression, so that "Christians have the courage to speak the truth with kindness and clarity, even in the face of adversity."

Right of religious freedom

"These materials," the USCCB explains, "were prepared to help people understand religious liberty from a Catholic perspective, pray about particular issues, and act on what they learn by advocating for policies that promote religious freedom."

Nationally, say US Bishops, "a major area of concern continues to be the freedom to carry out one's mission with integrity within Catholic institutions such as schools, hospitals and child care providers."

Through "prayer, awareness and action," then, the Week aims to "promote the essential right of religious freedom not only for Catholics, but also for people of all faiths."

03 June 2021, 11:50