U.S. Catholic Bishops Chairman Statement in Response to Senate Judiciary Committee Line of Questioning of Nominee

September 8, 2017 By Public Affairs Office

WASHINGTON—ArchbishopWilliam E. Lori of Baltimore, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of CatholicBishops Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty has issued the followingstatement in response to the line of questioning directed at a federal judicialnominee earlier this week.    

Archbishop Lori'sfull statement follows: 

"America has astrong and venerable tradition of pluralism that respects all religiousviews. In this context, this week's hearing before the U.S. SenateJudiciary Committee is deeply disappointing. Rather than simply considerthe professional achievements of a nominee for the federal judiciary, multiplesenators challenged her fitness to serve due to her Catholic faith. 

Such questions arenot just contrary to our Constitution and our best national traditions, whichprotect the free exercise of one's faith and reject religious tests for public office,they are offensive to basic human rights. They also, sadly, harken backto a time in our country when anti-Catholic bigotry did distort our laws andcivil order. These comments are a reminder that we must remain vigilantagainst latent bigotries that may still infect our national soul.

Were the commentsof the Senators meant as a warning shot to future law students and attorneys,that they should never discuss their faith in a public forum, if they haveaspirations to serve in the federal judiciary? In truth, we should beencouraging faithful, ethical attorneys to serve in public office, notdiscouraging them by subjecting them to inappropriate, unnecessaryinterrogation based on their religious beliefs.

People offaith—whatever faith they may hold—should not be disqualified because of thatfaith from serving the public good. Rather than hold people of faith insuspicion, our laws and lawmakers should tolerate, if not celebrate, the rolefaith has in society and in the lives of individuals. To do otherwise iscontrary to the ideals of a healthy, pluralistic society."

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop William E.Lori, Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee,federal judiciary, public office, anti-Catholic bigotry, faith, ethics, publicforum, religious beliefs, public good, pluralistic society.  

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