Saturday, March 3, 2012

Update from Cardinal Dolan on Restoring and Defending Our Religious Liberty

Cardinal Dolan has posted an update to his fellow bishops on the USCCB's continued resolve in fighting to ensure every individual's right to live out the beliefs that they believe in their daily lives, to ensure religious freedom for all. Since blogger html is giving me a wee bit of trouble I will publish part of his update below with a link to the rest.

My brother bishops,
Twice in recent weeks, I have written you to express my gratitude for our unity in faith
and action as we move forward to protect our religious freedom from unprecedented intrusion
from a government bureau, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). I remain
deeply grateful to you for your determined resolve, to the Chairmen of our committees directly
engaged in these efforts - Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Bishop Stephen
Blaire and Bishop William Lori -who have again shown themselves to be such excellent leaders
during these past weeks, and to all our staff at the USCCB who work so diligently under the
direction of the Conference leadership.

How fortunate that we as a body have had opportunities during our past plenary
assemblies to manifest our strong unity in defense of religious freedom. We rely on that unity
now more than ever as HHS seeks to define what constitutes church ministry and how it can be
exercised. We will once again dedicate ample time at our Administrative Committee meeting
next week, and at the June Plenary Assembly, to this critical subject. We will continue to listen, discuss, deliberate and act.

Thank you, brothers, for the opportunity to provide this update to you and the dioceses
you serve. Many of you have expressed your thanks for what we have achieved together in so
few weeks, especially the data provided and the leadership given by brother bishops, our
conference staff and Catholic faithful. And you now ask the obvious question, “What’s next?”
Please allow me to share with you now some thoughts about events and efforts to date and where
we might go next.

Since January 20, when the final, restrictive HHS Rule was first announced, we have
become certain of two things: religious freedom is under attack, and we will not cease our
struggle to protect it. We recall the words of our Holy Father Benedict XVI to our brother
bishops on their recent ad limina visit: “Of particular concern are certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of religion.” Bishop Stephen Blaire and Bishop William Lori, with so many others, have admirably kept us focused on this one
priority of protecting religious freedom. We have made it clear in no uncertain terms to the
government that we are not at peace with its invasive attempt to curtail the religious freedom we cherish as Catholics and Americans. We did not ask for this fight, but we will not run from it.

As pastors and shepherds, each of us would prefer to spend our energy engaged in and
promoting the works of mercy to which the Church is dedicated: healing the sick, teaching our
youth, and helping the poor. Yet, precisely because we are pastors and shepherds, we recognize
that each of the ministries entrusted to us by Jesus is now in jeopardy due to this bureaucratic
intrusion into the internal life of the church. You and I both know well that we were doing those extensive and noble works rather well without these radical new constrictive and forbidding mandates. Our Church has a long tradition of effective partnership with government and the 1wider community in the service of the sick, our children, our elders, and the poor at home and abroad, and we sure hope to continue it.

Of course, we maintained from the start that this is not a “Catholic” fight alone. I like to
quote as often as possible a nurse who emailed me, “I’m not so much mad about all this as a
Catholic, but as an American.” And as we recall, a Baptist minister, Governor Mike Huckabee,
observed, “In this matter, we’re all Catholics.” No doubt you have heard numerous statements
just like these. We are grateful to know so many of our fellow Americans, especially our friends in the ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, stand together in this important moment in our country. They know that this is not just about sterilization, abortifacients, and chemical contraception. It’s about religious freedom, the sacred right of any Church to define its own teaching and ministry. CONTINUED

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