Terence P. Jeffrey
CNS News 
June 21, 2012
The Catholic bishops of the United States have called for the nation’s Catholics to observe the two week period starting today and running through the Fourth of July as a “Fortnight of Freedom ” in which they hope Americans will pray for the preservation of freedom in this country and speak out clearly against the unprecedented attacks on religious liberty that have issued from the federal government.
The bishops have issued a new “Prayer for the Protection of Religious Liberty ” that they hope Catholics will use frequently in the coming days. The prayer asks God to keep America “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all” for “the sake of our children, our grandchildren, and all who come after us.”
It describes the current time as a “decisive hour in the history of our nation.”
The “Fortnight of Freedom” pointedly begins on the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More. Fisher and More are both Catholic martyrs beheaded by King Henry VIII in 1535 for refusing to take an oath recognizing Henry as the supreme authority over the church in England. Fisher, a cardinal, was bishop of Rochester. More, a lawyer, had served Henry as Lord Chancellor. Both gave their lives rather than bow to the king’s demand that they act against their consciences.
The most imminent threat to religious liberty—but not the only one —that the Catholic bishops have been protesting and seeking to draw public attention to is a regulation that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius issued under President Barack Obama’s health care law. The regulation will require virtually all health-care plans in the United States to cover, without any fees or co-pay, sterilizations, artificial contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs.
The Catholic Church teaches that sterilization, artificial contraceptives and abortion are morally wrong. Thus, the regulation would force Catholic workers, business owners and institutions to buy and/or provide for things that violate the teachings of their faith.