For some time now, the Bishops of this country have had growing concerns of potential restrictions on our First Amendments rights to express our religion freely. Just this past week, two Archbishops wrote on this topic of growing concern and importance; Archbishop Dolan of New York, and Archbishop Gomez of Los Angeles. Also this week, Bishop Lori of Bridgeport, the newly appointed Chair of the newly established Bishop’s Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty, addressed a panel before Congress on this very topic, and expressed our concerns.
I strongly encourage our Catholic family to “tune in” to this very important topic. The posed restrictions on our ability as a Catholic Institution to continue to carry out our ministries in the public arena are real, and have already led to closing some of our ministries. For example, the Federal Government just this past few days refused a grant for the US Bishops to continue their work of placing women and children who are victims of human trafficing. No reason was given for this refusal, but we know that more and more “pressure” is applied by the Federal Government on our Catholic institutions to provide for abortion and sterilization procedures for women.
One other “phrase” that is growing in popularity by Federal Government workers is “Freedom of Worship”, which is quite different from “Religious Liberty”. It is good that the government not endorse one religion, or espouse one religion for all. It is great that we have the freedom to worship in whatever fashion we choose. However, “worship” and practicing our faith and applying our moral beliefs in our institutions of healthcare and education are very different things. Both need to be honored and protected.
Please continue to keep this important topic in your prayers. Please continue to be aware of this on-going dialogue, and its consequences.