U.S. Bishops Issue Call To Action To Defend Religious Liberty

From the website of the USCCB:

April 12, 2012

Urge strong lay involvement
Outline threats to First Freedom at all levels of government and abroad
Call upon dioceses to pursue religious liberty fortnight, June 21-July 4 [Mark your calendars.  Get things going.]

WASHINGTON—The U.S. bishops have issued a call to action to defend religious liberty and urged laity to work to protect the First Freedom of the Bill of Rights. They outlined their position in “Our First, Most Cherished Liberty.” The document was developed by the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), approved for publication by the USCCB Administrative Committee March 13, and published in English and Spanish April 12.

The document can be found HERE.

“We have been staunch defenders of religious liberty in the past. We have a solemn duty to discharge that duty today,” the bishops said in the document, “… for religious liberty is under attack, both at home and abroad.”

The document lists concerns that prompt the bishops to act now.Among concerns are:

• The Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate forcing all employers, including religious organizations, to provide and pay for coverage of employees’ contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs even when they have moral objections to them. Another concern is HHS’s defining which religious institutions are “religious enough” to merit protection of their religious liberty.

• Driving Catholic foster care and adoption services out of business. Boston, San Francisco, the District of Columbia and Illinois have driven local Catholic Charities adoption or foster care services out of business by revoking their licenses, by ending their government contracts, or both—because those Charities refused to place children with same-sex couples or unmarried opposite-sex couples who cohabit.

Discrimination against Catholic humanitarian services. Despite years of excellent performance by the USCCB’s Migration and Refugee Services in administering contract services for victims of human trafficking, the federal government changed its contract specifications to require USCCB to provide or refer for contraceptive and abortion services in violation of Catholic teaching. Religious institutions should not be disqualified from a government contract based on religious belief, and they do not lose their religious identity or liberty upon entering such contracts. Recently, a federal court judge in Massachusetts turned religious liberty on its head when he declared that such a disqualification is required by the First Amendment—that the government violates religious liberty by allowing Catholic organizations to participate in contracts in a manner consistent with their beliefs on contraception and abortion.

The statement lists other examples such as laws punishing charity to undocumented immigrants; a proposal to restructure Catholic parish corporations to limit the bishop’s role; [This is a complicated point, since in some states parishes are separate corporations.  There are real advantages in that, since the assets of a whole diocese can’t be attacked through one institution.] and a state university’s excluding a religious student group because it limits leadership positions to those who share the group’s religion.

Other topics include the history and deep resonance of Catholic and American visions of religious freedom, the recent tactic of reducing freedom of religion to freedom of worship, [!] the distinction between conscientious objection to a just law, and civil disobedience of an unjust law, the primacy of religious freedom among civil liberties, the need for active vigilance in protecting that freedom, and concern for religious liberty among interfaith and ecumenical groups and across partisan lines.

The bishops decry limiting religious freedom to the sanctuary.  [This is IMPORTANT.  This is what the Obama Administration is trying to do.  They are trying to shift, with a shift of language and by direct attacks, the influence of religion out of the public square and confine it to inside churches or homes.  They are working to repress any influence that opposes their agenda and therefore they are undermining religious liberty.]

“Religious liberty is not only about our ability to go to Mass on Sunday or pray the Rosary at home. It is about whether we can make our contribution to the common good of all Americans,” they said. “Can we do the good works our faith calls us to do, without having to compromise that very same faith?”

“This is not a Catholic issue. This is not a Jewish issue. This is not an Orthodox, Mormon, or Muslim issue. It is an American issue,” they said.

[…]

Be sure to go read the rest there.

Discuss.

And don’t give me any blatteroon blather about “the bishops for decades have been weak and they brought this on themselves”.  That is pointless.  We are all in this now.

 

U.S. Bishops Issue Call To Action To Defend Religious Liberty
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36 Responses to U.S. Bishops Issue Call To Action To Defend Religious Liberty

  1. TheAcolyte says:

    It is religious liberty that has caused this problem in the first place – only Truth has rights, thus the State should only support the Catholic Church as Catholic governments (including democratic ones like of President Garcia Moreno) once did before the Vatican (following the error of Modernism) coerced them to unCatholicize their constitutions.

    Dr. Justin Walsh’s articles published some years ago in “The Angelus” magazine deal very well with the issue of Americanism and how much of our hierarchy (dominated by the Irish-Americanist bishops) fell for this error hook, line and sinker – which includes the error of religious liberty (a product of Eirenism).

  2. ContraMundum says:

    And don’t give me any blatteroon blather

    But that’s the best blather I’ve got! :-)

    Actually, it’s not a bad idea for a mug: Give me any blatteroon blather!

    I could see that being popular among people who have to attend a bunch of business meetings.

  3. thickmick says:

    As much as I would like to give this fight the ‘ole college try and fight the good fight, I am hesitant. The truth is, the bishops have been weak (I know, I know…insert pithy comment here) [Cf. comment, above, about “blatteroon blather”.] and now we (the lay people) are being asked to go out to the front lines and fight while the bishops sit back and self righteously exclaim… “It’s all about religious freedom” while nodding their heads and patting each other on the backs.

    Lets see a Bishop, anyone, use this moment to talk about the evils of contraception and why it should be outlawed or excommunicate one of these so called catholic politicians, that to me, would be a bishop leading from the front and someone I would like to follow into battle. Until then I intend to pray for guidance and for my bishop.

  4. Geoffrey says:

    “It is religious liberty that has caused this problem in the first place – only Truth has rights, thus the State should only support the Catholic Church as Catholic governments…”

    That is a nice thought, but not very realistic in today’s world. Religious liberty first, so that we Catholics have the freedom to bring about a change in society, etc.

    I support our bishops 110%, however I might add that this is not solely “an American issue”, but rather one that could affect the universal Church throughout the world.

  5. Dave N. says:

    I don’t know about others, but when I click “HERE” I get “page not found.”

  6. tzard says:

    Um, considering the horse bolted from the stable a couple centuries ago, Angelus, we better focus on what we have, rather than we can not have anytime soon.

    Right now, tenuous as it is, freedom of religion is all we have that can allow us to live the Gospel in this society without being a martyr. With it we can preach to others through word and deed in an ostensibly non-christian society.

    I might add, that while this does affect other religions, the problem seems particularly Christian.. Christ himself requires us to spread the Gospel in word and deed. Other religions and split off christian groups may require charity to outsiders in varying degrees, but it’s not at the same level as the Catholic faith.

  7. ivan_the_mad says:

    @thickmick: Sitting this out is tantamount to surrender. Don’t just stand with the bishops, get out in front of them, and be glad to do it! Be thankful that we have a chance to resist this, as so many of our brethren in other countries do not.

    @Dave N.: I have the same issue. If you look at the resulting page’s URL, you’ll see that this WDTPRS article url is followed by the USCCB link URL – delete the first and the second will work fine: here

  8. Baylor_convert says:

    Dave N., that is my experience as well. I get “page not found” when following the link from a Macbook using Mozilla, for what it’s worth.

  9. I think the bishops’ response has been working well so far, but IMO the key here is that they need to keep up the pressure, and keep escalating. I believe this whole HHS fight is one that the bishops will win, but when they do they can’t be content just with that. All of us as Catholics have to keep the pressure on to force our governments to recognize our freedoms.
    It won’t be enough to get the government off our backs on this one question. After we’ve done that we need to keep pushing and guarantee that the Church remains *completely* free of government meddling and power-grabbing.
    As soon as we sit back, the agents of the State just start planning their next power grab. They lose once in a while, but they always find ways to keep taking. So, we win this fight, and we use that momentum to keep pushing back and effect some real change. Send a clear message that no State can mess with our Church, that they exist at best to serve, and we will not serve them.

  10. digdigby says:

    Google this:
    “Our First, Most Cherished Liberty usccb”

    If you cannot bring up the statement.

  11. aviva meriam says:

    I wonder exactly what the laity can do to ratchet up the pressure at this point?

    What concrete steps can be taken by each and every catholic citizen in the US?

  12. Off the top of my head:

    Ask the pastor to have a talk at the parish about religious liberty in the USA and the history of anti-Catholicism in the USA.

    Picket every local Obama reelection HQ.

    Pray and fast for the failure of all the Obama Administration’s initiatives for restriction of religious liberty.

    Call your congressmen when legislation concerning these matters comes up.

    Stay informed and watch for organized events and then work for a good turn out.

    Contribute time, talent, treasure to good organizations.

  13. Supertradmum says:

    I applaud the bishops here. But, the larger issue is changing the entire culture and nation, not merely preserving a freedom. This is a start and should be of a larger battle, a much larger battle for the soul of the entire nation. God bless our Church leaders and make them stronger. We shall support them. We need a clearer idea, however, of what the real issue is–http://supertradmum-etheldredasplace.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/catholic-church-cannot-be-on-defensive.html

  14. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    FrZ wrote: “And don’t give me any blatteroon blather about ‘the bishops for decades have been weak and they brought this on themselves’. That is pointless.”

    Not only is pointless, it’s also largely inaccurate, and more so with each passing month. The bishops who helped create the 70s/80s malaise are, for the most part, gone by now. The new ones are left to combat much worse problem with far fewer resources. Too often what they get is carping, 20 years too late, and misdirected at them.

  15. Dave N. says:

    @Ivan,
    Thanks!

  16. frjim4321 says:

    We have Parish Council tonight. Why do we have an evening meeting during Easter Week? Some horrible blunder on the part of my dear Parish Administrative Assistant.

    I’ll download this from the USCCB (the link provided did not work) and pass it around at the meeting and see if there are any “takers.”

    I think the challenge here is filtering out from any discussion on First Amendment Religious Liberty the partisan agenda that is often concealed therein. It is fairly clear (see Brooks, “Who Really Cares”) that white republicans tend to be demonstrably more philanthropically inclined than other segments of the population. Call me cynical, but a part of me tends to believe that much of the anti-incumbent fervor on the part of our religious leaders is at least in part attributable to that fact.

    Deep Throat said “follow the money,” and that applies here. Who paid for the shrine in LaCrosse?

  17. Juergensen says:

    While I obviously agree that the Obama administration’s attack on the Church is the work of Satan and must be defeated, the bishops’ repeated calls to lay Catholics to take action against Obama’s contraception mandate appears at times something less than entirely inspiring.

    Where has the bishops’ action been these past 40 years on Humanae Vitae?

    Where has the bishops’ action been these past 40 years on the dreadful state of Catholic catechesis?

    Where has the bishops’ action been on enforcing Canon 915 and protecting the Holy Eucharist from profanation by abortionist and homosexualist politicians?

    Why did the bishops issue the ponderous 45-page “Faithful Citizenship,” which was characteristically “nuanced” so that many “Catholics” could quote it verbatim to justify their vote for Obama, the most abortionist politician perhaps in history?

    And is it true that EWTN News Chief Raymond Arroyo stated, after the 2008 election, that “the bishops I spoke to say that maybe half of their brother bishops, if not more, voted for Obama”? And if so is his statement true?

    In other words, is the Obama mandate the fruit of decades of episcopal silence and weakness and even acquiescence in if not approval of Obama?

  18. frjim4321 says:

    And is it true that EWTN News Chief Raymond Arroyo stated, after the 2008 election, that “the bishops I spoke to say that maybe half of their brother bishops, if not more, voted for Obama”? And if so is his statement true? – Juergensen

    It’s probably true because unlike votes at the Council which are monitored by the pro-nuncio, our civil elections are presumably anonymous. There are probably still a large number of U.S. bishops who are moderate-t0-progressive, but cannot afford to be so publicly.

  19. heway says:

    Well, I skimmed over it – but I am not going to read all that ‘blather’. Someone should tell them about the rewards of brevity! People read articles that are concise, come to the point and are brief. This looks like the 2 page letter from our Bishop (late as usual) when this all started. The point in my diocese is the laymen better lead as the bishop will be late or not show up. With all respect to him…..we must be in the front lines. If you haven’t seen the War of the Vendee, you need to.

  20. BarefootPilgrim says:

    OO-RAH, bishops!

  21. aviva meriam says:

    If the Bishops are serious about taking on the Obama administration they must call for specific actions. I’d love to see organized protests in front of their campaign offices, and in front of county, and State Democratic party offices. AS well as the DNC….
    But the other commentators are right in that they must make a concerted effort to explain and motivate the laity. Unfortunately, the pattern of allowing politicians to proclaim their catholic identities while championing abortion and attempting to remove Catholic institutions from the fabric of public life is wreaking havoc on the laity. Somehow the Bishops need to address that as well.

  22. AnAmericanMother says:

    frjim,
    I think the challenge here is filtering out from any discussion on First Amendment Religious Liberty the partisan agenda that is often concealed therein. It is fairly clear (see Brooks, “Who Really Cares”) that white republicans tend to be demonstrably more philanthropically inclined than other segments of the population. Call me cynical, but a part of me tends to believe that much of the anti-incumbent fervor on the part of our religious leaders is at least in part attributable to that fact.

    Well, that’s an interesting way of making a reproach out of charity! Not to mention excusing those who think that forcing others to give money to the government fulfills their obligation to perform works of charity.

    Talk about biting the hand that feeds you! I hope you don’t treat your parishioners to your cynicism.

  23. markomalley says:

    Vivo Cristo Rey!

  24. muckemdanno says:

    “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.” – Bishop Lori

    This is where the bishops lose me. Bishop Lori seems to be saying that it’s perfectly okay if the government, through taxation or through mandate, forces all of society to pay for contraception, as long as it allows for conscientious objection. But, how is it acceptable for the government to force one person to pay while it exempts another? Should only Catholics be exempt from this law? Could all Catholics be exempt from this law, even those who think contraception is a-ok?

    They could make a rational argument in either of two ways.
    1) The Catholic argument – the law is unjust because contraception in and of itself is a moral evil. This argument is correct, but in the political arena, it will fail since 99% of Americans have no moral problem with contraception.
    2) The American (libertarian) argument – the government should mind its own business, and stay out of everyone’s pocketbooks and bedrooms. They could also make a moral argument here, since it is wrong for the government to take the fruit of a man’s labor from him simply to give some benefit to another, whether by taxation or by mandate.

  25. moon1234 says:

    So why are people so against Ron Paul? He is the ONLY candidate that has advocated for three decades that the government has no business getting into ANY area the constitution does not specifically allow.

    Do people realize Ron Paul brought up bills FIVE times to remove abortion from the perview of the federal government. What would this have meant? This would have meant that state laws would prevail. This would mean that overnight abortion would be illegal in almost every state. Yet people beat him up because he won’t support a federal ban. Why? Because the founders did not put the regulation of reproduction in the constitution.

    I urge all of my fellow Catholics to research doctor Paul. He is the ONLY candidate to quote scripture to explain his positions. A vote for Romney is a Vote for Obama. The two are virtually identical. Both have almost the exact same top donors. That should tell you something.

    Catholics really need to start researching who they are voting for and what that person believes. Remember what happened when the people made David King instead of looking towards God? Remember what God did when David took a census. If not, please look it up. Apply these principals to our government today! Teach your fellow Catholics!

    Ron Paul supports the just war doctrine. No war without congress voting on it and no pre-emptive war. He wants an end to abortion. He supports traditional marraige. He will NOT waffle on his positions. Imagine electing a president who will actually FOLLOW the constitution and not act like a king.

    How will I help this year? I am doing my best to educate EVERY Catholic about Ron Paul and the cause of Liberty. The state should never replace the Church when it comes to the regulation and promotion of the moral law.

  26. Christopher1978 says:

    “Not only is pointless, it’s also largely inaccurate, and more so with each passing month. The bishops who helped create the 70s/80s malaise are, for the most part, gone by now. The new ones are left to combat much worse problem with far fewer resources. Too often what they get is carping, 20 years too late, and misdirected at them.”

    I am starting to see this more and more.

  27. Clinton R. says:

    I agree with those who feel it is of vital importance to educate Catholics and non Catholics as to why the Church is against contraception. The bishops argument has to be stated in a manner so it should not be perceived as “contraception is bad for Catholics, but acceptable for everyone else”. People need to know how destructive to families and society contraception is. This is not just a religious liberty issue, this is a “greatly offends God” issue. May the Queen of Heaven and Earth pray for the bishops. +JMJ+

  28. jflare says:

    @moon1234 – Ron Paul has a some good ideas, but we can’t accomplish much with simply a bunch of good ideas. Enacting legislation requires that a President have cooperation from Congress; I do not believe he has enough credibility to provoke anyone to do much. Should he be elected, I expect we’d hear almost as much grousing about what the Republican establishment won’t do as we would about what needs to be done for the country’s good.
    I’m sorry, but except for an extraordinary situation in which I might have a choice between Barack Obama and Ron Paul, I can’t vote for Ron Paul. Period.

    It’ll be interesting to see how this effort–the bishops’ call to action–will pan out. Much as I regret saying this, I fear that this COULD fall apart over the point they made about immigration law. I think the laws in Alabama and elsewhere are quite regrettable. ..Unfortunately, I also think they’re most likely necessary.
    In my lifetime, the Church has all but rejected the idea that illegal immigrants might possibly have done anything they shouldn’t. Somehow, even though the land’s law says something relatively obvious, any person who questions the virtue of nearly completely open borders..tends to be all but denounced a racist.
    If the laws in Alabama, Arizona, and elsewhere place society and faith at grave risk of serious abuse and sin, well, the advocates for effectively open borders have, for my purposes at least, all but abandoned concern for serious justice for all persons.

    I do hope we can force the other concerns to reason without tearing the country apart over immigration.

  29. Kerry says:

    “…nodding their heads and patting each other on the backs”. Hey, I was there. There was neither nodding nor back patting. I didn’t see you there.

  30. Kerry says:

    When the “inserting themselves into politics” meme bounces up, one might reply, “Were the Catholic priests supporting the Civil Rights movement of Dr. MLK and others, inserting themselves into politics”?

  31. Frank_Bearer says:

    If you are for religious liberty as described, I don’t want to hear a peep from you whining about Islam , Pro-Abortion prayers, women priests, satanism, etc.

    Be careful what you wish for.

    [I suspect you think you scored some points with that.]

  32. wjphelps says:

    Personally, I am willing to do all I can in support of my bishop. However, he must provide the leadership if I am to work within the Church. I have yet to have a call to action directed to me by my pastor, acting pursuant to the Bishop’s instructions.

  33. Facta Non Verba says:

    The first settlers to emigrate from Europe came to America to escape religious persecution in Europe and to be able to practice their religion as they saw fit. Rhode Island was the first American colony to recognize freedom of conscience. Maryland was founded as a haven for Catholics, but its citizens extended the right of religious toleration to other Christians. The Bill of Rights, including of course the free exercise clause of the First Amendment, was necessary in order for the Constitution to be ratified by the states.

    Given this history of our nation, I am shocked that a sitting US President would be so brazen in his assault on The First Amendment. I also think that the HHS mandate may violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). Even Jimmy Carter would be an improvement to this administration.

  34. Pingback: …And We’re Back! | Summa Americana

  35. rhhenry says:

    Even if, God forbid, the current (or any) administration succeeds in “confin[ing] religious practice to inside churches or homes,” I will “fight” (spiritually) from within my home to turn back the tide — the Rosary, novenas, Holy Water, etc., can all be used from inside the home. The gates of Hell shall not prevail . . .

  36. Hidden One says:

    If you aren’t behind the bishops, you’re in their way. God has not forgotten the successors of His Apostles.

    Go to Mass. As many days a week as possible. Go to Confession. At least every two weeks, as possible. Pray before Mass in preparation and after Mass in thanksgiving. Pray parts or all of the Liturgy of the Hours according to your state in life and its duties. Participate in public devotions. Practise mental prayer. Pray when you rise and when you go to sleep, when you eat and when you are done eating, when you are working and when you are not. Pray with your families and with your friends. Pray alone. Pray the rosary, the Divine Mercy chaplet, whatever good and holy devotion. Sustain yourself too by spiritual reading – seek the Christ of the Scriptures and the wisdom of the Saints. Pray for strength, for courage, for humility, for charity, for perseverance, for your bishop and the other bishops. Thank God for His blessings, especially His mercy. Put your time and money – according to what you have – in the service of the Church. Scandalize no one. Pray for everyone else who is also living for God.

    This is what I want to do. Let’s work together.

    God bless the US bishops.