Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By CNA/EWTN News

3/28/2014 (7 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Acrimony remains on religious freedom issues

U.S. President Barack Obama's March 27 meeting with Pope Francis comes at a time of tension between his administration and the Church over religious liberty, several Catholic leaders have said.

'There has been a great deal of acrimony over issues related to religious freedom. This is something new and quite serious, since it affects the ability of the Church to carry out its mission,' V. Bradley Lewis, a philosophy professor at the Catholic University of America, told CNA March 26.

"There has been a great deal of acrimony over issues related to religious freedom. This is something new and quite serious, since it affects the ability of the Church to carry out its mission," V. Bradley Lewis, a philosophy professor at the Catholic University of America, told CNA March 26.

Highlights

By CNA/EWTN News

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

3/28/2014 (7 months ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: Pope, Obama, relations, acriony, religious freedom


(CNA/EWTN News) - "There has been a great deal of acrimHTML Link CTRL + SHIFT + Lony over issues related to religious freedom. This is something new and quite serious, since it affects the ability of the Church to carry out its mission," V. Bradley Lewis, a philosophy professor at the Catholic University of America, told CNA March 26.

He said relations between the U.S. government and the Catholic Church are "quite vexed . I don't believe they have been this vexed in my memory."

No child need ever go to bed hungry -- go here!

Many Catholic dioceses, charities, universities, health care systems, and even the Little Sisters of the Poor, have filed legal challenges against the Obama administration's mandate requiring most employers to cover or aid access to procedures and drugs that violate Catholic teaching: sterilization and contraception, including some abortion-causing drugs.

Lewis said that the contraception mandate has been "a source of great tension," it is "not an isolated incident."

The Obama administration has revised conscience protection rules in federal health care law, and argued against protecting the hiring decisions of religious groups before the U.S. Supreme Court - an argument rejected in a unanimous decision by the justices.

The administration also ended a contract with the U.S. bishops to help human trafficking victims. Its allies opposed the grant because the program would not facilitate access to abortion and contraception.

Lewis commented that Pope Francis is in a "very strong position" to make a case to the president about the importance of religious freedom, "in a way that cannot be perceived as politically motivated.

"I hope the president will listen."

Chad Pecknold, a religion professor at the Catholic University of America, agreed with Lewis that the Obama administration's relationship with the Catholic Church has been "tense."

"Some bishops have described the administration as hostile to the Catholic Church, and coercive of conscience."

He attributed these hostilities largely to the government's agenda, rather from "any hostility of the Church toward the duly-elected government."

Pecknold said Pope Francis is not unaware of these tensions, and though he will have wanted to diffuse them, "he will almost certainly seek to stand with the fight for religious liberty, to defend the weak and unborn against the unjust exercise of free choice."

He said it was unusual for U.S. presidents to visit the Pope until after the Second Vatican Council; but since John F. Kennedy's presidency, every U.S. president has met with the Pope.

"This particular meeting between President Obama and Pope Francis is significant as their first meeting, and because of perceived symmetries between them on questions of economic justice," Pecknold reflected.

However, he added that such meetings are "so often symbolic," and it is uncertain whether substantive discussions take place.

Lewis said the Pope is a "unique world leader" who has "no particular political or geopolitical agenda or interest."

"His agenda is the Gospel and his authority is moral and spiritual in nature," he added, suggesting other world leaders value discussions with the Pope because "he has no ulterior motives" and because so many of their citizens consider him a spiritual leader.

Maryann Cusimano Love, a fellow of the Catholic University of America's Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies, said the Church and the U.S. government have "many areas of common concern" in foreign policy and Pope Francis and Obama were likely to discuss these.

She noted their shared concern for peace and anti-poverty work, and suggested they could discuss nuclear weapons, since Obama is in Europe to host the Nuclear Security Summit.

"For the first time, a U.S. president . has agreed to the Catholic Church's call for a world free of nuclear weapons," Love said.

She noted the U.S. and the Holy See can find common ground in opposition to world hunger and human trafficking. Immigration issues are another point of discussion.

However, she noted that the U.S. government is arming and funding the military capacities of governments such as Israel, Egypt, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, as well as non-state combatants in Syria, while the Church has emphasized the need to reduce trade in guns and conventional weapons that can worsen conflicts.

"Bishops in Africa and Latin America will tell you that their countries are awash in guns that were 'Made in the USA'," Love said.

According to Love, both the Holy See and the U.S. government "work for peace in the Middle East," though the Holy See supports stronger protections for Palestinians, including Palestinian Christians.

And Msgr. Anthony Figueiredo, director of the North American College's Institute for Continuing Theological Education, told Vatican Radio March 26 that while "the Church . is looking for points we have in common," the Holy See is "very concerned about questions, for example, of religious freedom."

The Church is "concerned about ethical issues such as the destruction of the family by laws which propose gay marriage or 'liberty' in so many ways."

"We believe in something else: We believe that there is a law placed in our hearts by God, and no one has the right to change that law. In fact, when one lives that law, one finds true freedom and true joy."

"That's what the Church wants, and certainly that is what this Pope wants."

Following Obama's meeting with Pope Francis, and later with officials of the Secretariat of State, the Holy See press office stated that "views were exchanged on some current international themes and it was hoped that, in areas of conflict, there would be respect for humanitarian and international law and a negotiated solution between the parties involved."

"In the context of bilateral relations and cooperation between Church and State, there was a discussion on questions of particular relevance for the Church in (the U.S), such as the exercise of the rights to religious freedom, life and conscientious objection, as well as the issue of immigration reform. Finally, the common commitment to the eradication of trafficking of human persons in the world was stated."

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for November 2014
Lonely people:
That all who suffer loneliness may experience the closeness of God and the support of others.
Mentors of seminarians and religious: That young seminarians and religious may have wise and well-formed mentors.



Comments


More Living Faith

Two bishops dine and dialogue with peace activists

Image of War doesn't decide who is right, just who is left.

By Tony Magliano

During the recent U.S. Catholic bishops fall assembly in Baltimore, two bishops decided to forego the military chaplains dinner sponsored by the U.S. Army Chief of Chaplains Office, and attended instead a simple supper and discussion on peacemaking. On the evening of ... continue reading


'God always forgives, but the earth does not,' Pope warns Watch

Image of The Pope urged the world's leaders to rein in their greed and help the hungry.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A doomsday scenario in which Mother Nature would exact her revenge is possible, even likely, Pope Francis warns. The pontiff was speaking out against the exploitation of natural resources for profit. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Pope urged the world's ... continue reading


Pope Francis' special message: Why Poverty? 'And while we speak of new rights, the hungry remain, at the street corner, We ask for dignity, not for charity.'

Image of When we give our loaves and fishes to Christ, there is no end to the Good that can come from it.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis has asked the world to do more to help those who suffer from hunger and malnutrition. Despite gains made in infrastructure and outpourings of food, too many people with plenty have done too little to help. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - With ... continue reading


How do you raise a good, upstanding child? With daily prayers, weekly church attendance and the knowledge of God Watch

Image of Billy Graham, now 96, has reached out to millions with his joyous words of the truth of God and Jesus Christ.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Reverend Billy Graham, the world famous television evangelist and founder and chairman of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, has said that the reason the world seems to be in such dire straits is that children are not being raised right. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Learning Lessons for Life from Zaccheus and that Sycamore Tree Watch

Image of Zaccheus climbed that tree in order to see the Lord, not to be seen by Jesus. He did not care what the crowd thought of a grown man climbing a tree! He went after the encounter with Jesus Christ with a childlike simplicity and a reckless abandon. Do we?

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

The Sycamore tree created a clear line of vision for Zaccheus. It helped him to rise above the crowd and see the Lord clearly. It placed him in the right position for the invitation that would follow. Jesus told him to come down for he was coming to his house! ... continue reading


Jesus Weeps and Calls us to Recognize His Visitation Watch

Image of The Cross, an instrument of torture, will become the sign of peace, for those who find their refuge under its shadow and embrace the One who stretches out His arms to embrace the whole world. There Jesus will deal definitively with the great enemy of peace, the sin which impedes it in each of our lives. With tenderness He looks out from the Mount of Olives and sees the Holy City of Jerusalem. How he loves that City. Then, Jesus weeps. He knows the City will soon be overtaken and destroyed by the armies of Titus. He weeps the tears of Love and cries compassion from His Sacred Heart

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Jesus shows His disciples - and He shows us us, because we are His disciples in this hour - the pattern of living in a continual communion with the Father. He invites them - and He invites us - into this very communion of love which He has with the Father, in the ... continue reading


Children deserve both father and mother, Pope Francis says Watch

Image of Children have the right to be raised by a mother and a father, Pope Francis said, emphasizing that

By CNA/EWTN News

Children have the right to be raised by a mother and a father, Pope Francis said, emphasizing that "the family is the foundation of co-existence and a remedy against social fragmentation." Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News) - The Pope made these remarks on Nov. 17 at ... continue reading


Here are 10 Very Interesting Facts About the Catholic Church You Probably Didn't Know! Watch

Image of Pope Francis commands the world's smallest professional army.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

How much do you know about the Catholic Church? Here are 10 fun facts you might not know. See how many you know and post your result in the comments! 1.    Vatican City has the highest crime rate in the world! With a population around 500 people and a ... continue reading


Study: Latin Americans abandoning Catholic Church for evangelical, Protestant churches Watch

Image of Protestants now make up 19 percent of the Latin American population, while another eight percent now profess no religious affiliation, a figure reaching 37 percent in Uruguay.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Catholic Church is losing members in Latin America at an increasing rate. According to the Pew research Center, many Latin Americans are leaving the church for Pentecostal, Protestant churches. There is even a growing number of Latin Americans who now ... continue reading


Living Faith: Learning How to See from a Blind Man Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

The people to whom we are introduced in the Gospel accounts have been selected from among many others who encountered Jesus - for a real purpose. They can put us in touch with the Lord, with ourselves, and with the meaning of our own lives.Through prayerful ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17
11 "For the Lord Yahweh says this: Look, I myself ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 23:1-2, 2-3, 5, 6
1 [Psalm Of David] Yahweh is my shepherd, I lack ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 25:31-46
31 'When the Son of man comes in his glory, escorted ... Read More

Reading 2, First Corinthians 15:20-26, 28
20 In fact, however, Christ has been raised from the ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for November 23rd, 2014 Image

Bl. Miguel Pro
November 23: Born on January 13, 1891 in Guadalupe, Mexico, Miguel Agustin ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter