Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo


3/28/2014 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (

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.



Catholic Online (

3/28/2014 (2 years 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'

Copyright 2016 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for SEPTEMBER 2016
Centrality of the Human Person: That each may contribute to the common good and to the building of a society that places the human person at the center.
Evangelization: Mission to Evangelize: That by participating in the Sacraments and meditating on Scripture, Christians may become more aware of their mission to evangelize.


More Living Faith

St. John Paul II Feast Day Celebration Watch

Image of Saint John Paul II.


With St. John Paul II feast day just around the corner, Saturday, October 22, take a moment to brush up on his wonderful life and celebrate with a prayer. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Saint John Paul II was born May 19, 1920 and passed away April 2, 2005. He was ... continue reading

Reaching out to the new generation: John Paul II documentary unlike any other Watch

Image of A new documentary of Pope John Paul II will help

By Tonia Borsellino (CNA/EWTN News)

Thousands of people gathered in St. Peter's Square and around their television sets to pray for Pope John Paul II as he passed away on April 2, 2005. They remembered the more than 26 years he served as the Holy Father; the courage he had in fighting communism; his ... continue reading

Is it okay for Catholics to celebrate Halloween? An exorcist explains Watch

Image of Is it okay for a Catholic to celebrate Halloween?

By Mary Rezac (CNA/EWTN News)

For years, Cecilia Cunningham and her husband took their children trick-or-treating in their then-suburban Philadelphia neighborhood. Denver, CO (Catholic Online) - "It was the kind of neighborhood outside of Philadelphia where everybody knew each other, and it was a ... continue reading

The beautiful meeting of John Paul II and Mother Teresa Watch

Image of John Paul II met St. Mother Teresa.

By Mary Rezac (CNA/EWTN News)

It's been said that saints often come in pairs. Vatican City, Rome (CNA/EWTN News) - Sts. Peter and Paul, Mary and Joseph, Francis and Clare, and Louis and Zelie Martin are just a handful of such saints, coupled together through marriage or friendship.Perhaps the ... continue reading

The Catholic Liturgy is NOT on the decline, despite doctrine controversies Watch

Image of There is always hope for the Church's liturgical music.

By Adelaide Mena (CNA/EWTN News)

For decades, there's been concern in many corners of the Church that Catholic music is in crisis. LOS ANGELES, CA (CNA/EWTN News) - The 1992 book "Why Catholics Can't Sing" outlined a history of modern Catholic Liturgical music and a rapid shift away from traditional ... continue reading

Check out our children's shopping items! Watch

Image of Teach your kids about Christ.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online now has more children's options in its store! LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Take a look at some of the new products made especially for children!Whether you want to teach your kids about the Bible or the Rosary, Catholic Shopping has just the ... continue reading

Seven things to remember when you get frustrated with this election Watch

Image of We must not set aside our faith or become disheartened.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

In all my life, I have not experienced an election cycle as bitter as this one. Soon, our nation will choose between two terribly flawed candidates for president. The decision we make at the polls will determine who gets the privileged responsibility to lad our nation ... continue reading

Our choices end where another's more fundamental right begins Watch

Image of Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann

By Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann

Though he has local roots in the Kansas City area, I have never met vice presidential candidate, Senator Tim Kaine. From those who do know him, I understand that he is a very affable and likable person. In the Oct. 4 vice presidential debate, Senator Kaine acknowledged ... continue reading

A message for the Church from one of its newest saints Watch

Image of St. Jose Sanchez del Rio teaches a lesson in martyrdom.

By (CNA)

When we find ourselves weary from the troubles of life, we can find inspiration in the heroism of one of the Church's new saints, said Cardinal Alberto Suarez Inda of Morelia, Mexico. Vatican City, Rome (CNA) - From its inception, "the history of the Church is the ... continue reading

'It was clear that he had made up his mind' - How Catholics should handle police aggression Watch

Image of What should Catholics do in the face of police aggression?

By Adelaide Mena (CNA)

C. Matthew Hawkins stood frozen with fear as the update crackled through the police car radio: the suspect in question is white and 5-feet, 7-inches tall. Hawkins, now a Catholic seminarian who happens to be 6-feet tall and black, was grateful for the news. Washington ... continue reading

All Living Faith News


Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ephesians 4:1-6
1 I, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you therefore to lead a life worthy ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 24:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
1 [Psalm Of David] To Yahweh belong the earth and all it contains, the ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 12:54-59
54 He said again to the crowds, 'When you see a cloud looming up in the ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 21st, 2016 Image

St. Hilarion
October 21: Abbot and disciple of St. Anthony the Great, ... Read More