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
Most Reverend Nicholas J. Samra
Bishop of Newton