Catholics across Pennsylvania are taking their usual Lenten Friday practices one step further today. Earlier this month, the Catholic Bishops of Pennsylvania issued a letter requesting that all Catholics dedicate the regular Lenten Friday practice of prayer and abstinence from meat as well as the additional practice of fasting on Friday, March 30, to the preservation of religious liberty.
The call to prayer and fasting is part of a continued response to the mandate imposed by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that forces all employers, including religious employers, to buy coverage for sterilization and contraceptives, including drugs that induce abortion. The mandate is a serious infringement on freedom of conscience, which is guaranteed by the First Amendment.
Bishops across the Commonwealth are speaking out in defense of religious liberty and encouraging all Catholics to join them:
- Bishop John O. Barres, Diocese of Allentown, spoke about religious freedom at the closing Mass of the Diocese’s 50th Anniversary celebration in February.
- Altoona-Johnstown Bishop Mark Bartchak posted a video message about the day of prayer and fasting.
- Bishop Donald Trautman of the Diocese of Erie sent a letter reminding Catholics that “fasting is a communal way to involve mind, heart and body for an important cause.”
- Greensburg Bishop Lawrence Brandt wrote, “It is very important to make our voices heard in Washington,” in his letter to the Catholics of his diocese.
- Bishop Joseph McFadden, Diocese of Harrisburg, prayed the Rosary for religious liberty live on AM 720 in Shiremanstown, Pennsylvania.
- Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput released a new eBook, A Heart on Fire: Catholic Witness and the Next America. It is an extended essay on the role of religious faith in American public life today and contrasts current pressures against religious liberty in the United States with the vigorous role this freedom played in founding and forming the nation.
- Bishop David Zubik of the Diocese of Pittsburgh will celebrate the noon Mass at St. Mary of Mercy Church in Downtown Pittsburgh. His homily will center on the need to safeguard the constitutional guarantee of religious freedom against any infringement by the government.
- Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera will celebrate Mass at 12:10 pm then lead the Stations of the Cross. The Mass and Stations will be broadcast live on Catholic Television (CTV). Video will be posted here after the Mass.
- Catholics from the Ukrainian Archeparchy of Philadelphia and the Byzantine Archeparchy of Pittsburgh will also participate today.