“Religion [cannot] be relegated to the inner sanctum of personal life, without influence on societal and national life.”
-Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, 183.
The Catechism on Religious Liberty
Quoting from the Vatican II document “The Declaration on Religious Liberty” the Catechism teaches authoritatively that “Nobody may be forced to act against his convictions, nor is anyone to be restrained from acting in accordance with his conscience in religious matters in private or in public, alone or in association with others, within due limits.”
As Catholics and as Americans we believe that every human person has the right to practice their faith not just privately but publicly. This is why the U.S. Bishops have forcefully taught that encroachments on religious liberty in the U.S. are violations not just of our Catholic faith but of the Bill of Rights, the Constitution and of fundamental human dignity. Visit the U.S. Bishops’ website for more information on this issue. Below are some helpful links. To stay up to date on these matters consider signing up for the newsletter from the USCCB and for action alerts.
The Future of Marriage and Religious Liberty
On October 8, 2015, Dr. Ryan T. Anderson came to Omaha in order to present on the how we might respond to the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision which redefined marriage. The video of that presentation is below.
Religious Liberty Issues
HHS Mandate – The Department of Health and Human Services has mandated that all insurance plans cover contraceptives, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs at no cost to the insured. This means that companies that provide health insurance for their employees by paying in part or in whole the premiums for these plans will be paying for contraceptives, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs.
HHS has determined not to exempt those religious organizations like the Little Sisters of the Poor – who care for the impoverished elderly – because of an overly narrow definition of religious activity. As a result, the Little Sisters of the Poor are faced with either violating their conscience or enormous fines (up to $36,500 per employee, per year) that would destroy the work of the sisters. Here is more information about the mandate and about recent court cases.
Conscience Protection – At the heart of religious liberty is the right of the conscience to be free from coercion. Yet, more and more the rights of conscience of pharmacists, doctors, nurses, lawyers, psychologists and many others are being routinely violated. The U.S. Bishops ask that Catholics support efforts at the federal and state levels to protect conscience. Here is more information about efforts to guard our rights of conscience.
Fortnight for Freedom – From June 24th to July 4th the U.S. Bishops are encouraging all Catholics and people of good will to engage in educational events, liturgical prayer and civic engagement around the issue of religious liberty. The Archdiocese of Omaha will be having events during the fortnight and encouraging parishes to pray for religious liberty. Here are some other resources:
Our First, Most Cherished Liberty: A Statement on Religious Liberty – by the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty of the USCCB; April 12, 2012. [en español]
Lesson Plans – Five lesson plans which incorporate the document Our First, Most Cherished Liberty.
Pope Francis, Renewed Vision of Religious Freedom – from Archbishop William Lori at the International Religious Liberty Award Dinner; October 8, 2015.
“The Defense of Marriage and the Right of Religious Freedom: Reaffirming a Shared Witness” pdf – from various leaders of different faiths including Archbishop Joseph Kurtz; April 23, 2015.