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Daily Message

Our actions and intentions are inspired by the ideals of the gospel Jesus Christ: the call on us to love our neighbor and to serve those in need. The Catholic Church offers our country its greatest private school system, its largest health care system, its largest network of social service providers and one of the largest relief agencies CRS, Catholic Relief Services. These ministries serve all people, Catholics and non-Catholics alike… We are involved in these ministries not because the people we serve are Catholic, but because we are Catholic. To act differently would violate our deepest convictions.

– Cardinal Séan O'Malley, Archdiocese of Boston

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Current Threats to Religious Liberty

 

An Overview of Specific Examples

In June 2014, Pope Francis remarked that religious persecution is more widespread today that 1,700 years ago. He emphasized that it is incomprehensible and alarming that people continue to suffer discrimination, restriction of their rights and even persecution for publicly profession their faith. Undeniably, "Serious violations inflicted on this basic right [religious freedom] are causes of serious concern," and all people must work to defend "the intangible dignity of the human person against every attack." Indeed, religious liberty continues to be under threat even in the United States:

  • HHS mandate for contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs.  The mandate of the Department of Health and Human Services forces religious institutions to facilitate and/or fund a product contrary to their own moral teaching.  Further, the federal government tries to define which religious institutions are “religious enough” to merit protection of their religious liberty.

  • Catholic foster care and adoption services.  Boston, San Francisco, the District of Columbia, and the State of Illinois have driven local Catholic Charities out of the business of providing adoption or foster care services—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.

  • State immigration laws.  Several states have recently passed laws that forbid what they deem as “harboring” of undocumented immigrants—and what the Church deems Christian charity and pastoral care to these immigrants.

  • Discrimination against small church congregations.  New York City adopted a policy that barred the Bronx Household of Faith and other churches from renting public schools on weekends for worship services, even though non-religious groups could rent the same schools for many other uses.  Litigation continues.

  • Discrimination against Catholic humanitarian services.  After years of excellent performance by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services (MRS) in administering contract services for victims of human trafficking, the federal government changed its contract specifications to require MRS to provide or refer for contraceptive and abortion services in violation of Catholic teaching.

  • Christian students on campus.  In its over-100-year history, the University of California Hastings College of Law has denied student organization status to only one group, the Christian Legal Society, because it required its leaders to be Christian and to abstain from sexual activity outside of marriage.

In his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis clearly outlined the importance of preserving a robust sense of religious freedom. He said that a "healthy pluralism...does not entail privatizing religions in an attempt to reduce them to the quiet obscurity of the individual's conscience or to relegate them to the enclosed precincts of churches, synagogues or mosques." Therefore, it is essential that a proper sense of religious pluralism be fostered and defended not just in the United States, but throughout the world.



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