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US bishops strongly affirm drive to protect religious freedom

Catholic World News - June 14, 2012

The topic of religious freedom dominated discussion at the meeting of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) on June 13, with the American bishops showing a strong united front on the issue.

In an impressive display of unity, the bishops voted unanimously to endorse the public positions already taken by USCCB leaders in defense of religious freedom. The resolution offering that endorsement was put forward by Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, the USCCB president, and seconded by Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton, California, the chairman of the justice-and-peace committee. In May, Bishop Blaire had raised some questions about the USCCB’s political strategy in an America magazine interview; his show of support for Cardinal Dolan’s resolution was clearly intended to underline the unity within the hierarchy.

Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, the chairman of the US bishops’ committee on religious liberty, reviewed the statements already released by the USCCB, and the plans for the “Fortnight for Freedom” leading up to Independence Day celebrations on July 4. He stressed that the campaign “is strictly about the issue of religious freedom” and should not be seen as a partisan effort.

Archbishop Lori was followed to the podium by John Garvey, the president of Catholic University, who as a constitutional lawyer has advised the USSCB on religious-freedom issues; Thomas Farr, a former State Department official who now heads a religious-freedom program at Georgetown; and Bishop Shlemon Warduni of the Chaldean Catholic patriarchate of Baghdad, who offered a perspective on religious freedom in the Middle East.

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  • Posted by: frjpharrington3912 - Jun. 15, 2012 11:58 PM ET USA

    The relative importance Americans ascribe to religion in their personal lives seems to be proportionate to threats by the government to the free exercise thereof according to John Garvey's Religious Freedom and the Love of God. That to believe and practice their religion publicly through visible signs was highly valued by our forefathers who immigrated to America explains why religious freedom is enshrined in the Constitution and defended as well by representatives who also valued religion.

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