The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty has issued their Statement on Religious Liberty. This statement reminds us that this country was founded on principles of liberty for all. The First Amendment of the Bill of Rights says:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
This statement also reminds us that Pope Benedict himself has recently spoken of his concerns about American’s Religious Freedom as well as a call to action for all Catholics:
Of particular concern are certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of religion. Many of you have pointed out that concerted efforts have been made to deny the right of conscientious objection on the part of Catholic individuals and institutions with regard to cooperation in intrinsically evil practices. Others have spoken to me of a worrying tendency to reduce religious freedom to mere freedom of worship without guarantees of respect for freedom of conscience.
Here once more we see the need for an engaged, articulate and well-formed Catholic laity endowed with a strong critical sense vis-à-vis the dominant culture and with the courage to counter a reductive secularism which would delegitimize the Church’s participation in public debate about the issues which are determining the future of American society.
All in all, the statement outlines 7 current concerns that show religious freedom in America is under attack.
- The HHS Mandate for Healthcare Reform
- State Immigration laws – Especially that criminalize helping others by classification as “Harboring” when any organization helps an undocumented person
- Alteration of church structure and governance
- Issues surrounding Christian students on campus
- Limits on Catholic adoption agencies
- Discrimination against small churches and congregations
- Discrimination against Catholic humanitarian services
This is a very good outline of what we as Catholics are facing in America. The bottom line, however is that Pope Benedict is calling for our action on these issues. We are not to simply stand by and see what happens.