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The head of USCCB’s ad hoc committee on religious liberty: "The real issue here is whether or not we’re sort of 'crossing the Rubicon' here on religious liberty."
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?

Archbishop 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?

Archbishop 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?

Archbishop 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 for.

Read the entire interview, "Lori: Crossing the Rubicon?", at OSV.com.

 
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Carl E. Olson editor@catholicworldreport.com

Carl E. Olson is editor of Catholic World Report and Ignatius Insight.
 
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