Important Update: Archdiocese of Washington files new complaint reagrding HHS mandate. Read More.
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Pope Says ‘Radical Secularism’ is Threat to Freedom of Religion, Conscience in United States

By Francis X. Rocca and Sarah DelaneyCatholic News Service
Posted on: Monday, May 21st, 2012

Pope Benedict XVI warned visiting U.S. bishops that “radical secularism” threatens the core values of American culture, and he called on the church in America, including politicians and other laypeople, to render “public moral witness” on crucial social issues.

The pope spoke Jan. 19 to a group of U.S. bishops who were in Rome for their periodic “ad limina” visits, which included meetings with the pope and Vatican officials, covering a wide range of pastoral matters.

Opening with a dire assessment of the state of American society, the pope told the bishops that “powerful new cultural currents” have worn away the country’s traditional moral consensus, which was originally based on religious faith as well as ethical principles derived from natural law.

Whether they claim the authority of science or democracy, the pope said, militant secularists seek to stifle the Church’s proclamation of these “unchanging moral truths.” Such a movement inevitably leads to the prevalence of “reductionist and totalitarian readings of the human person and the nature of society.”

The pope drew an opposition between current “notions of freedom detached from moral truth” and Catholicism’s “rational perspective” on morality, founded on the conviction that the “cosmos is possessed of an inner logic accessible to human reasoning.” Using the “language” of natural law, he said, the Church should promote social justice by “proposing rational arguments in public square.”

Coming at the start of an election year, Pope Benedict’s words were clearly relevant to American politics, a connection he made explicit by mentioning threats to “that most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of religion.”

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About Preserve Religious Freedom

This lawsuit is about religious freedom and our ability to serve the public, not about contraception. The Church maintains that the First Amendment protects the Catholic Church's ability to serve the public in accordance with its faith and to operate its religious institutions without government interference. The argument challenges the way the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) defines what is, and is not, a religious institution. By including an exemption at all, the government apparently agrees that, in keeping with decades of practice and precedent, religious institutions should not be compelled to purchase drugs or procedures that violate deeply held religious or moral beliefs.

But, the Administration's HHS mandate defines religious ministry so narrowly that religious schools, hospitals, and social services don't qualify as religious, and must therefore provide these drugs and procedures. This violates the First Amendment's guarantee of religious freedom. It forces religious organizations to sacrifice their beliefs in order to be able to continue their mission of serving the public. Read more about the plaintiffs filing this lawsuit here.

Preserve Religious Freedom
c/o Archdiocese of Washington
P.O. Box 29260
Washington, DC 20017-0260

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