Archbishop Lori: Religious liberty protections ‘a victory for all Americans’

Baltimore, Md., Oct 6, 2017 / 04:45 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The chair of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Religious Liberty says that expanded religious liberty protections in the federal contraception mandate are a “victory for the First Amendment, and a victory for all Americans, even those who don’t agree with the Church’s” teaching on contraception.

The Department of Health and Human Services announced revisions to the contraception mandate provisions of the Affordable Care Act Oct. 6, considerably expanding exemptions for religious groups and others with moral or ethical objections to providing contraception in employee health plans.

In comments to CNA, Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, who has led the bishops’ religious liberty efforts since the formation of the committee in 2011, said the announcement was “very welcome news.”

“I think it restores a balance that was lacking,” the archbishop said. “It permits us to do our ministries” without violating Catholic moral principles, he added.

The U.S. bishop’s conference has consistently opposed the contraception mandate since it was announced in 2011. While Lori praised expanded religious liberty protections, he told CNA that “as important as the announcement is, it’s a regulation that could be changed by a future administration.”

He said the bishops would continue to work for “a more permanent solution” to the ethical challenges posed by the contraception mandate.

“We’ll also see more challenges to our religious liberty,” Lori told CNA. “We’ll continue seeking a more robust understanding and implementation of RFRA laws.”

RFRA, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, is a federal statute limiting the government’s ability to “substantially burden” the free exercise of religion. Since being signed into law by President Clinton in 1993, 21 states have enacted similar provisions.

Lori told CNA that “in addition to the various challenges we face on religious liberty at the federal and local levels, the biggest thing we need to do is effectively catechize, evangelize, and teach about religious freedom. That is job number one” for the bishops’ religious liberty committee, he explained.

“On the one hand, we face specific legal challenges,” he said. “On the other hand, we face a society losing sight of the beauty, goodness, and dignity of religious liberty.”

The archbishop said that Americans risk “frittering away” freedom of religion if they do not actively work to protect it.

“Will we have a just society without protecting religious liberty,” he asked.

In June, the U.S. bishops voted to permanently establish the religious liberty committee within the structure of the bishops’ conference. It had previously been an ad hoc committee, which, by conference rules, could only remain active over a defined period of time.

“The bishops recognized that is important for us to teach, catechize, and address these issues,” Lori said. “I was very gratified by that decision.”

Lori also said that domestic religious liberty challenges should raise awareness of religious persecution around the world.

“It’s said that nearly 70 percent of the world’s population lives under some restriction of their religious freedom. That ought to be sobering for us in the West,” he said.

“We need to be in great solidarity of prayer with those suffering religious persecution,” he said, adding hope that American Catholics would support initiatives promoting religious liberty internationally.

The archbishop explained that protecting religious liberty domestically could itself have global effect. “By protecting our freedom, and keeping the flame of freedom burning brightly, we serve as a sign of hope” for persecuted religious believers around the globe, he said.

3 Comments

  1. In his logorrheic gush of fulsome bromides and pious platitudes on “religious liberty”, Archbishop Lori conspicuously neglects to acknowledge that the overturning of the Obamacare contraceptive mandate was due solely and exclusively to the unilateral executive action and authority of President Donald Trump. Archbishop Lori and his other corrupt and cowardly American episcopal confreres have unanimously refused before, during, and after President Trump’s election to offer any endorsement, support, or acknowledgement of his courageous pro-life positions and, most of all, his pro-life actions. Yes, this is indeed “a victory for all Americans” but in spite of the AmChurch clerical and bureaucratic establishment and not because of it. Also, lest we forget, President Trump was publicly mocked, vilified, and condemned as “not Christian” by Pope Francis and his Mercy Mafia. Our Lord has the last word as He always will: it is by his actions that a man is known.

      • Yes indeed, to all the counts you mention, but it’s far more than a political choice, indispensable as that is in the here and now. Archbishop Lori reveals himself as a materialistic politician who thinks that pulling the secular constitutional and legal levers of the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and “catechizing” on the rationalist Enlightenment concept of “religious liberty” has something to do with the Catholic Faith.

        • Our FAITH is placed not in the Constitution, but in Jesus Christ, Sovereign and Lord.

        • Our HOPE for freedom is expressed not by reciting Constitutional precepts, but in teaching both individuals and States to observe all things whatsoever that Our Blessed Lord commanded.

        • Our LOVE for God and country is made manifest not through acts of patriotic sentimentalism, but by proclaiming the Sovereign Rights of Christ the King to all, including those in civil authority, that they may come to heel under His sweet and saving yoke, by demanding acknowledgement of His Kingship, and by public worship by all, individuals and States, of Christ the King.

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