Kathryn Jean Lopez of National Review has written a report and analysis of the recent meeting of the USCCB in Atlanta.
Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, and chairman of the USCCB committee on religious liberty, put it very simply:
“We will not fail”
The bishops were united on the issue of religious liberty. As the author notes:
The bishops’ unprecedented unanimity is welcome news from the conference: All are deeply committed to defending religious liberty. In a show of support, one of the bishops most identified with potential discord, Stephen Blaire, of Stockton, Calif., didn’t let the meeting close without adamantly insisting that conscience rights be defended. And for those who doubted still, conference president Timothy Cardinal Dolan led his men in a unanimous voice vote in support of what the body has stated thus far (most notably in a March statement, “United for Religious Freedom”). The reporters who are looking for cracks in this rare united front will be disappointed.
Lopez writes, noting the seriousness of this administration’s attempt to redefine what is “religious,” and to limit the participation of what is religious in the public square:
My alma mater, the Catholic University of America, is chartered by the U.S. bishops and grants pontifical degrees to some of its students. According to HHS rules, though, it is not a religious institution and would therefore be required to follow the HHS mandate. This absurd attempt to redefine and shrink the religious sphere provides a tremendous opportunity for believers to reaffirm their role in public life.
Our engagement in the defense of religious freedom will tell the tale to history.
Lopez notes the attitudes that landed us in this situation:
This fight can also help us understand how we got to this radicalizing moment: We lost confidence. Many of us have voluntarily privatized religion, publicly conceding that our most precious rights are fit merely for pew talk. And we’ve allowed government to seize authority that is beyond its bounds. But that’s not right, and you don’t have to be a Catholic — or a conservative Republican — to see it. You’re free not to have religion. But you must be free to live it if you feel the call.
How do we live as people of faith in the public square?
If we believe, we ought show it in our actions. We ought to be a people who love and live as if we believe what we say in all aspects of our lives — personal, political, and cultural. That’s the opportunity of the present moment: to be who we say we are. And to insist that we remain free to live by our belief.
Quite a challenge!