By Patrick B. Craine
ROME, Italy, August 7, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Pope Benedict XVI is warning that the United States is facing threats of “unprecedented gravity” to religious freedom.
a letter on behalf of the pope to Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the
Knights of Columbus, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio
Bertone observed that “concerted efforts are being made to redefine and
restrict the exercise of the right to religious freedom.”
The comments come as the U.S. bishops campaign for religious liberty
in the face of attacks such as President Obama’s HHS mandate, which
requires employers to cover contraceptives, sterilizations, and
abortion-inducing drugs in their health insurance packages.
The bishops recently concluded their “fortnight for freedom” - two
weeks of intensive “prayer, study, catechesis, and public action.”
Shortly before launching the event, the bishops had reaffirmed their
condemnation of the HHS mandate, nothing that the rule effectively
punishes Catholic institutions for operating in the public sphere.
“Those deemed by HHS not to be ‘religious employers’ will be forced
by government to violate their own teachings within their very own
institutions. This is not only an injustice in itself, but it also
undermines the effective proclamation of those teachings to the faithful
and to the world,” they wrote.
Writing in advance of the Knights of Columbus’ annual Supreme
Convention, which opened Tuesday in Anaheim, the prelate praised the
Knights of Columbus for working “tirelessly to help the Catholic
community recognize and respond to the unprecedented gravity of these
new threats to the Church’s liberty and public moral witness.”
In his letter, Bertone quoted remarks by Pope Benedict in January in
which he called on America’s bishops to “counter a reductive secularism
which would delegitimize the Church’s participation in public debate
about the issues which are determining the future of American society.”