Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore gestures during a news conference June 11 at the annual spring meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in New Orleans. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)
From a just-posted Our Sunday Visitor interview with Abp. William E. Lori of Baltimore, chair of the USCCB’s ad hoc committee on religious liberty:
Our Sunday Visitor: As the HHS mandate battle continues, what is the current status of religious liberty in the United States?
William E. Lori: I don’t think we’re in the position where we can say
that if one or two or three things were changed everything would be OK
again. I think we’re in the position, rather, where the sands are
shifting beneath our feet, and the position of churches and church
institutions, even the position of conscientious, intentional believers
in our culture, is shifting and that the scope of toleration for
religious expression and for religious institutions is narrowing. It’s
important for us to step back and realize we’re in a different spot than
we were. ...
OSV: What are the biggest religious liberty challenges facing the Church?
Lori: Prior to [the HHS mandate] we were able to fashion our health
insurance plans for employees and other aspects of our internal
operations simply and solely according to our own teachings. Chaos did
not ensue; we provided very fine health plans for our employees. ...
Now, in one way or another, we have been asked to become entangled or
involved with providing for our employees benefits that are contrary to
the teaching of the Church. There are different types of triggering
mechanisms that have been proposed. But the bottom line is that we are
introducing to our internal plans a Gospel different from the one we
want to preach and promote. And that, to me, is what we really have to
look at here. It isn’t just a question of how close we might be to some
moral evil; it’s a question of whether we are introducing an
anti-evangelization word into our institutions or not. ...
OSV: Why bother standing up for religious freedom?
Lori: The real issue here is whether or not we’re sort of “crossing the
Rubicon” here on religious liberty. If we agree to this so-called
accommodation, when it pertains to contraception, will we so readily
agree to one about abortion, surgical abortion, if and when that should
come down the line. Would our reasoning work for that? In other words,
we have to ask ourselves, as we depart from this status-quo ante, where
are we headed? What will this mean for our church institutions? How
heavily regulated will they be in the future? How free or unfree will
they be to proclaim the Gospel of family and the Gospel of life? I think
those are serious questions worth pondering and worth having a struggle
Read the entire interview, "Lori: Crossing the Rubicon?", at OSV.com.