Religious Freedom: April 2012 Archives
What is at stake in this moment of our history is not just the possibility for religious groups to continue to give their own original contribution to American society, but also the possibility for any man or woman to gain access to the truth of life. For this reason, we will not give up the right to publicly witness to the world, through our lives and our work, what we hold most dear. With the words of the Russian writer Vladimir Soloviev, we repeat today what Christians have been repeating for 2,000 years."In the grieved voice the Emperor addressed them: 'Tell me yourselves, you strange people...you Christians, deserted by the majority of your brothers and leaders: what do you hold most dear in Christianity?' At this Elder John rose up and said in a quiet voice: 'Great sovereign! What we hold the most dear in Christianity is Christ Himself - He in His person. All the rest comes from Him, for we know that in Him dwells bodily the whole fullness of Divinity.'"
Today, the US bishops issued a call to action to defend religious liberty and urged laity to protect the First Freedom of the Bill of Rights. No doubt there is considerable consternation surrounding the proposed usurpation of our legal freedom of religion: clearly the US President has forgotten the first clause of the Bill of Rights: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...."
The statement, "Our First, Most Cherished Freedom," aims to inform and to encourage the entire Christian Church in North America -and beyond--in understanding what the Church teaches on religious liberty. Moreover, the US bishops want to encourage a rightful role in defending the first of our American liberties. Being Catholic -or a person of faith- does not mean that we give up a sense of reasonableness and citizenship. The bishops published this work in order to reassert their voice in the public square, thus bridging the gap of faith and reason for a coherent national debate on matters of concern. Religion cannot be relegated to the closet. Like most documents of the Church, this one also hopes not only to impart information but also to form Catholics (indeed, all Christians) as faithful citizens. It is our Christian belief that religious liberty is God-given and is not imparted by our elected officials. "Our First, Most Cherished Freedom" is a document of the Bishops' Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty.