Press conference presenters (left to right): Dr. Anne Hendershott; Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore; Sister Mary Ann Walsh, Director of USCCB Media Relations; Dr. Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention; and Dr. Yuri Mantilla, Law Professor at Liberty University Law School.
have just returned from participating in the press conference
yesterday on religious liberty at the National Press Club in
Washington, D C. Featuring Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore,
who serves as the chair of the USCCB’s ad hoc committee on
religious liberty, the panel also included Dr. Russell Moore of the
Southern Baptist Convention, and Dr. Yuri Mantilla, a Law Professor
at Liberty University Law School. CSPAN
the conference live.
press conference was held to accompany the release of an open letter,
“Standing Together for Religious Freedom” (PDF),
signed by Archbishop Lori and more than 100 other religious leaders
and scholars from a variety of faith traditions. The signers simply
are asking the Obama administration to “expand conscience
protections under the mandate to cover any organization or individual
that has religious or moral objections to covering, providing, or
enabling access to the mandate drugs and services.” The letter
also calls on Congress to implement legislation to protect against
religious freedom violations.
me, it was an honor to be included on this panel to show my support
for the courageous work on religious liberty that Archbishop Lori has
been doing these past years. You can read
my prepared statement on the Franciscan University of
having participated in a press conference before, I was fascinated
with the way it was structured. While most of the questions from the
media were respectful, it was a bit discouraging for me to find that
what I perceived as the most contentious question of the day came
from Michael Sean Winters, a writer for the National Catholic
Reporter. As you will see from the CSPAN video (23:50 mark), his
was the first question from the assembled reporters. It was a long
and multi-part questionand appeared to me to have been prepared
well before the press conference. The crucial part of his
questionthe part at the end of his convoluted questionwas to
ask Archbishop Lori: “why is so much money and time being spent on
Lori answered him respectfullytrying to help him understand that
this threat to our religious liberty is real and needs to be
addressed. But, Winters was obviously not satisfied with his answer.
on his blog that Archbishop Lori had “punted” instead of
answering his question.
Winters at the press conference I could not help but be reminded of
Cardinal Francis George’s 1999 description of liberal Catholicism
as an “an exhausted project parasitical on a
substance that no longer exists.”
Catholics know why we need to support the courageous work Archbishop
Lori is doing. The threat to our religious liberty is realand
Michael Sean Winters should know that.