This year the fourteen days from June 21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More—to July 4, Independence Day, are dedicated to this "fortnight for freedom"—a great hymn of prayer for our country.This time of prayer is sparked by the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services' recent extremely narrow definition of what constitutes a "religious institution" and therefore what institutions may be exempted from government mandates which conflict with that religious entity's moral beliefs. As Bishop Michael J. Bransfield's statement on the Fortnight for Freedom explains, a recent HHS mandate regarding insurance coverage by religious institutions "jeopardizes the ability of religiously-sponsored entities to continue important works of healing without violating the Gospel of Life and individual consciences."

Bishop Bransfield will be celebrating Mass at 6 p.m. Saturday, June 30, 2012 at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling. This Mass obviously occurs during the Fortnight for Freedomtime period, and Bishop Bransfield will address the issue of Religious Liberty during the Mass, which willbe streamed on the internet live at as well as broadcast at 11 a.m. July 1 in the Northern Panhandle and North Central West Virginia as part of the diocesan televised Mass program.

As Bishop Bransfield says: 'West Virginians, Mountaineers who "Are Always Free," treasure the ability to live according to their own beliefs. So many citizens of this State have, throughout its history, risen up and literally spilled blood in the defense of the American tradition of liberty, not least religious liberty. Indeed, we recall that our State was borne of the crucible of the Civil War and the belief that all people ought to be free and that all people are created equal by their God. As people of this wonderful State and as brothers and sisters in Christ, we join hands in prayer to uphold that "most cherished of American freedoms," our free exercise of religion and true freedom of conscience.'