(NCR) The U.S. bishops have launched a nationwide prayer campaign to defend religious liberty against recent threats such as the federal contraception mandate. The campaign centers around a newly released “Prayer for Religious Liberty,” which asks God to grant “a clear and united voice” to all who gather to defend rights of conscience “in this decisive hour in the history of our nation.”
At a Washington administrative committee meeting March 13-14, leaders of the U.S. bishops’ conference called for the campaign in response to imminent threats to religious liberty, including the Obama administration’s controversial contraception mandate.
Bishops from every diocese in the country have spoken out against the mandate, which was announced by the Department of Health and Human Services on Jan. 20 and will require employers to offer health insurance plans that cover contraception, sterilization and early abortion drugs, even if doing so violates their religious beliefs.
In a March 14 statement assessing the threat to religious freedom posed by the mandate, the bishops urged all people of faith to engage in “prayer and penance” for the protection of conscience rights in America.
“Prayer is the ultimate source of our strength,” the bishops said, observing that “without God, we can do nothing; but, with God, all things are possible.”
The bishops’ conference website offers campaign resources, including suggested prayers of the faithful for religious liberty and more information on the mandate.
It also offers a bulletin insert with instructions on how to contact members of Congress and ask them to support legislation to protect religious freedom and conscience rights under the health-care law.
The new “Prayer for Religious Liberty” can be downloaded in both Spanish and English on the website, and prayer cards featuring Mary Immaculate and Our Lady of Guadalupe can be ordered in bulk.
The prayer acknowledges that man’s “right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” comes from the
“provident hand” of God the Creator.
It recognizes both “the right and the duty” to worship God by living out one’s faith “in the midst of the world.”
“We ask you to bless us in our vigilance for the gift of religious liberty,” says the prayer, which requests “strength of mind and heart to readily defend our freedoms when they are threatened.”
It also asks for “courage in making our voices heard on behalf of the rights of your Church and the freedom of conscience of all people of faith.”
The prayer asks God for help to overcome trials and dangers so that future generations may continue to experience the greatness of America as “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
Prayer for Religious Liberty
(text of National Prayer Cards)
O 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.”
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Copyright © 2012, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC. All rights reserved.