U.S. Bishops Welcome Pope’s Reaffirmation of Religious Liberty During Ad Limina Visit

January 19, 2012 By Public Affairs Office

Cardinal-Designate Dolan Praises Pope’s Pastoral Vision
Chair of Religious Liberty Committee Says Bishops Thankful, Encouraged
Most Recent Statement on Religious Liberty Reflects Church’s Longstanding Teaching

WASHINGTON—The U.S. bishops expressed praise and gratitude for the latest statement of Pope Benedict XVI on the need to protect religious liberty, which he delivered in an address January 19, to U.S. bishops gathered in Rome for their ad limina visits.

“Of particular concern are certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of religion,” said Pope Benedict. “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. 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.”

“For bishops, the ad limina addresses are really a high point of the visits to Rome because the pope presents his pastoral vision to them,” said Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). “Today Pope Benedict spoke eloquently and powerfully on the threats to the Church’s moral witness in public life.”

“The bishops are thankful and encouraged by this most recent statement of the Holy Father on religious freedom,” said Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, Connecticut, chairman of the USCCB’s new Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty. “His 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.”

“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, and it is gratifying that he called upon the ‘engaged, articulate and well-formed’ laity to protect their right and the right of the Church to participate in the ‘public debate about the issues which are determining the future of American society,’” said Philip Allen Lacovara, an attorney and consultant to the bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty.

The full text of Pope Benedict’s address is available online: www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2012/january/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20120119_bishops-usa_en.html

Keywords: Pope Benedict XVI, pope, Holy Father, address, speech, U.S. bishops, ad limina, visits, Rome, audience, religious liberty, freedom of religion, conscience, coercion, Vatican II, Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, Bishop William Lori, Philip Lacovara, Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty, USCCB, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, threats, culture, institutions, America, secularism

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