Acton Institute Powerblog

Catholic Bishops Defend Religious Liberty

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The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty released an Easter week statement titled “Our First, Most Cherished Liberty.” The document outlines recent threats to religious liberty in the States and abroad while endorsing an upcoming  “Fortnight for Freedom” to defend what it calls “the most cherished of American freedoms.”

We suggest that the fourteen days from June 21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More—to July 4, Independence Day, be dedicated to this “fortnight for freedom”—a great hymn of prayer for our country. Our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face of persecution by political power—St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More, St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome. Culminating on Independence Day, this special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action would emphasize both our Christian and American heritage of liberty. Dioceses and parishes around the country could choose a date in that period for special events that would constitute a great national campaign of teaching and witness for religious liberty.

This thoughtful and well-reasoned statement is a necessary read not just for Catholics, but for all concerned with religious liberty. To read it in its entirety, click on the link above.

Andrew Knot


  • Dilexi2011

    Which “religious liberty” is being propounded by the bishops of the USCCB?  The one according to the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, or “religious liberty” stated in the Council document “Dignitatis Humanae”? 

    The First Amendment protects citizens from freedom to practice religion of their choosing. 

    Religious Liberty as taught according to Conciliar dsocment, Dignitatis Humanae, is the right and freedom of every man to practice his religion of his choosing.  The problem with this is that Religious Liberty is not a “statement of faith.”  It does not mean religious “freedom.”  It was never a traditional magisterial teaching.  The use of free will is not applicable here in its strict context.  Everyone has the duty to seek the Truth and everyone doesn’t have the liberty to follow what he believes his conscience dictates to him, because he may lack the informed conscience that is necessary to discern the Truth.  What it implies is that everybody can follow whatever religion he wants because he believes his religion is one of the many paths that lead to salvation.  This brings some kind of false hope.  This is one of the documents pastorally taught at the Council, where it is the doctrine of the Church that there is only one religion that brings man to salvation and it is through membership in the Church of Christ, which is the Catholic Church.