21-January-2012 -- EWTNews Feature |

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Bishops praise Pope's warning about US religious freedom threats

Pope Benedict's concern about the threats to freedom of religion in the United States caused several U.S. bishops to be "thankful and encouraged."

"Pope Benedict spoke eloquently and powerfully on the threats to the Church's moral witness in public life," Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan of New York, who is president of the U.S. bishops' conference, said on Jan. 19.

Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, Conn., who heads the U.S. bishops' new committee on religious liberty, said the Pope's words reflect "the longstanding teaching of the Church, going back to the documents of the Second Vatican Council, that all people have a right not to be coerced to violate their religious beliefs."

On Jan. 19, Pope Benedict XVI told a group of U.S. bishops from the Mid-Atlantic states about his "particular concern" over attempts to limit "that most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of religion."

"Many of you have pointed out that concerted efforts have been made to deny the right of conscientious objection on the part of Catholic individuals and institutions with regard to cooperation in intrinsically evil practices," he said. "Others have spoken to me of a worrying tendency to reduce religious freedom to mere freedom of worship without guarantees of respect for freedom of conscience."

Philip Allen Lacovara, an attorney who is a consultant to the bishops' religious liberty committee, said the Pope "urged all Catholics to recognize that a culture of secularism poses a direct threat to traditional American values of religious liberty and freedom conscience."

Lacovara stressed the need for the laity to protect their right and the right of the Church to participate in public debate about issues which determine the future of American society.

The Pope's words came the day before the Obama administration announced that a federal mandate requiring free contraceptives in insurance plans would not exempt many religious groups and institutions, including many Catholic institutions.

Read more: http://www.ewtnnews.com/catholic-news/US.php?id=4708#ixzz1kILiXKtf

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