By Dave Andrusko
In a twelve page document, The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) today issued a call to action to defend religious liberty and urged laity to work to protect the First Freedom of the Bill of Rights. Developed by the USCCB’s Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty, “Our First, Most Cherished Liberty” was published in English and Spanish.
The bishops called for “A Fortnight for Freedom,” the two-week period from June 21 to July 4, to focus “all the energies the Catholic community can muster” for religious liberty.
“This is not a Catholic issue,” the document declares unequivocally. “This is not a Jewish issue. This is not an Orthodox, Mormon, or Muslim issue. It is an American issue.”
The document lists several examples of the attack on religious liberty, “both at home and abroad.” They begin with the mandate of President Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services which, according to the document,
has received wide attention and has been met with our vigorous and united opposition. In an unprecedented way, the federal government will both force religious institutions to facilitate and fund a product contrary to their own moral teaching and purport to define which religious institutions are ‘religious enough’ to merit protection of their religious liberty. These features of the “preventive services” mandate amount to an unjust law. As Archbishop-designate William Lori of Baltimore, Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, testified to Congress: ‘This is not a matter of whether contraception may be prohibited by the government. This is not even a matter of whether contraception may be supported by the government. Instead, it is a matter of whether religious people and institutions may be forced by the government to provide coverage for contraception or sterilization, even if that violates their religious beliefs.’”
The document can be read in full at www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/our-first-most-cherished-liberty.cfm.
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