Category Archives: Religious Freedom

The Jesus mandate vs. Obama’s mandate –the challenge of religious freedom

William Edward Lori’s essay, “The Jesus mandate vs. Obama’s mandate” was published this afternoon in The Washington Post. Lori is the 4th bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport and the chairman of the US Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty.

Two paragraphs of Bishop Lori’s essay follow, but the full text is noted here:

Last year alone, Catholic Charities served more than
10 million of the poor, the needy, and the suffering throughout our nation.
 Catholic Charities doesn’t know how many of those served were not
Catholic, because they simply never ask. Our faith compels us to serve, not the
faith of those we help.

Catholic ministries for the needy are as blind to race,
creed, class, and gender as Jesus Christ, their founder. That any one of them,
much less all of them, should be forced to choose between the Gospel mandate
and the U.S. government’s health care mandate strikes at the very heart of the
right to religious liberty on which our country was founded.

CT Catholics to fight Department of Health and Human Services on conscience rights

Since it was announced on January 20th that Catholic institutions will be expected by law, to comply with Federal mandates to provide services named “healthcare” but really are procedures connected with contraception and abortion, several US bishops have come out against the Obama administration’s war on conscience rights of people of faith, and the Connecticut Catholic dioceses (Hartford, Stamford, Norwich and Bridgeport) will be fighting Obama. Why is this important: conscience can’t violated, Catholic institutions serve not just the Catholic population, but everybody. Catholics will not comply with Obama, it contradicts Jesus. As Pittsburgh’s Bishop Zubik said, to hell with you Mr Obama. 

What follows are a few paragraphs of Archbishop Mansell’s February column in the Catholic Transcript (the full text can be read here):

Hartford.gifWe cannot comply with this edict. Our parents and
grandparents did not come to these shores to help build America’s cities and
towns, its infrastructure and institutions, its enterprise and culture, only to
have their posterity stripped of their God-given rights. In generations past,
the Church has always been able to count on the faithful to stand up and
protect her sacred rights and duties. We hope and trust that she can count
on this generation of Catholics to do the same. Our children and grandchildren
deserve nothing less.

The Dioceses of Bridgeport and Norwich, as well as the
Ukrainian Diocese of Stamford, will be joining us in the Archdiocese of
Hartford as we mount a campaign against this horrific development.  Prayer
and fasting are, of course, supremely important, that wisdom and justice may
prevail and religious liberty may be restored. You may also wish to visit
to learn more about this severe assault on religious liberty, and how to
contact our Senators and Representatives to support legislation that would
reverse the Administration’s decision.

We must act strongly against this
edict. It affects the lifeblood of Catholics and millions more who are not
Catholic but whom we serve diligently. The future of all of us and our
country as well is at stake.

Archbishop Henry J. Mansell
Archbishop of Hartford
The Catholic Transcript, February 2012
Enhanced by Zemanta

Obama’s breach of faith over contraceptive ruling

The Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne, Jr., is not a completely reliable Catholic intellectual, but I think we ought to pay attention to today’s opinion piece, “Obama’s breach of faith over contraceptive ruling.” I don’t agree with all that Dionne posits, but it would be incorrect to dismiss the whole piece because he does have a point for us Catholics to pay close attention to.

One of Barack Obama’s great attractions as a
presidential candidate was his sensitivity to the feelings and intellectual
concerns of religious believers. That is why it is so remarkable that he
utterly botched the admittedly difficult question of how contraceptive services
should be treated under the new health care law.

His administration mishandled
this decision not once but twice. In the process, Obama threw his progressive
Catholic allies under the bus and strengthened the hand of those inside the
Church who had originally sought to derail the health care law.

This might not
be so surprising if Obama had presented himself as a conventional secular
liberal. But he has always held himself to a more inclusive standard.

deservedly celebrated 2006 speech on religion and
American public life
was a deeply sophisticated and carefully
balanced effort to defend the rights of both believers and nonbelievers in a
pluralistic republic.

Obama’s speech at Notre Dame’s
graduation in 2009
was another tour de force. His visit to South
Bend was highly controversial among right-wing Catholics. Yet his address
temporarily silenced many of his critics because it showed an appreciation for
the Catholic Church’s contributions to American life — particularly through its
vast array of social-service and educational institutions — and an instinctive
feeling for Catholic sensibilities.

USCCB’s Committee on Religious Liberty detailed

Since its establishment there’s been little concrete news on the make up of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty. The President of the USCCB, Archbishop Timothy Dolan, established the committee to address the concerns surrounding the reduction of religious freedom in a variety of arenas, not least government and culture. Dolan named Bridgeport Bishop William E. Lori as the chairman, the member bishops and consulters have yet to be named. A group of bishops will meet, however, Sunday, 13 November, in advance of the annual general assembly of the US bishops.

Lori told CNA that the goal “…is first of all to lift the whole area of religious freedom, beginning with the teaching of the Church in Dignitatis Humanae [1965]– the Second Vatican Council’s declaration on religious freedom” and the exposition of “…the vision of the Founding Fathers of the United States.”
Read David Kerr of CNA’s post on the developments here or here.

Defending Our First Freedom, Archbishop José Gomez, decries slowly losing sense of religious liberty in America

José H. Gomez.jpg

On 25 October 2011, Los Angelus Archbishop José H. Gomez, STD,  60, spoke on the slow loss of America’s first freedom. On March 1, 2011, Archbishop Gomez became the Archbishop of Los Angelus, after being the Archbishop of San Antonio; he’s been a bishop for nearly 11 years.  A stellar article follows:

There is much evidence to suggest that our society no longer values the public role of religion or recognizes the importance of religious freedom as a basic right. As scholars like Harvard’s Mary Ann Glendon and Michael Sandel have observed, our courts and government agencies increasingly treat the right to hold and express religious beliefs as only one of many private lifestyle options. And, they observe, this right is often “trumped” in the face of challenges from competing rights or interests deemed to be more important.

These are among the reasons the U.S. Catholic bishops recently established a new Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty. My brother bishops and I are deeply concerned that believers’ liberties–and the Church’s freedom to carry out her mission–are threatened today, as they never have been before in our country’s history.

Catholics have always believed that we serve our country best as citizens when we are trying to be totally faithful to the teachings of Jesus Christ and his Church. And since before the founding of the American Republic, Catholics–individually and institutionally–have worked with government agencies at all levels to provide vital social services, education, and health care.

But lately, this is becoming harder and harder for us to do. Just last week, the federal government declined a grant request from the U.S. bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services agency. We are not really sure why. No reason was given. Our agency has been working well with the government since 2006 to help thousands of women and children who are victims of human trafficking.

Recently, the government had been demanding that our agency provide abortions, contraception and sterilizations for the women we serve. We hope our application was not denied because we refused to provide these services that are unnecessary and violate our moral principles and religious mission.

And this is not an isolated case. Right now, the federal government is also trying to force private employers to provide insurance coverage for sterilizations and contraception–including for medications that cause abortions. This not only violates the consciences of Catholic business owners, it also undermines the religious autonomy of Church employers.

For several years now, it seems that whenever there is a merger or expansion involving a Catholic hospital, some legislator or government agency tries to block it unless our Catholic hospitals and doctors will start providing abortions and sterilizations. So far, these efforts at coercion have failed. What’s troubling is that these efforts continue, without regard to the historic contributions of Catholic health care or to the First Amendment.

More recently, the push to legalize “same-sex marriages” has posed a new set of challenges to our freedoms. Church adoption and foster-care ministries have already been forced to shut down rather than submit to government demands that they place children with same-sex couples or provide benefits for same-sex employees.

And in an ominous development, the U.S. Justice Department went on record this summer as saying that those who defend the traditional definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman are motivated by bias and prejudice.

Of course, that is our ancient Catholic belief, rooted in the teachings of Jesus and also the Jewish Scriptures. It is a belief held by many Protestants, the Orthodox, and also by Jews and Muslims, among others. But scholars like Princeton’s Robert P. George warn that this belief might now be labeled as a form of bigotry and lead to new challenges to our liberties.

We are also concerned about the signals the federal government is sending in a case now before the U.S. Supreme Court, Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC. Experts say that if the government’s case prevails, it will have broad new powers to regulate the inner workings of Church institutions–even to possibly interfere in areas of Church practice and doctrine.

All of this is troubling and represents a sharp break with our history and American traditions. Religious liberty has always been “the first freedom” in our Bill of Rights and in our national identity. Our country’s founders recognized that religious freedom is a right endowed by God, not a privilege granted by government. And they respected that what God has given, no one–not a court, a legislature, or any institution–can rightly deny.

In our history, religious freedom has always included the rights of churches and religious institutions to establish hospitals, schools, charities, media outlets, and other agencies–and to staff these ministries and run them, free from government intrusion.

And religious freedom has always included the churches’ rights to engage in the public square to help shape our nation’s moral and social fabric. We see this throughout our history–from the abolitionist movement, to the civil rights movement, to the pro-life movement.

America’s founders understood that our democracy depends on Americans’ being moral and virtuous. They knew the best guarantee for this is a civil society in which individuals and religious institutions were free to live, act, and vote according to their values and principles. We need to help our leaders today rediscover the wisdom of America’s founding. And we need to help believers once more understand the vital importance of this “first freedom.” At stake are not just our liberties but also the future character of our democracy.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]
coat of arms



Humanities Blog Directory