religious freedom

State Department releases annual report on international religious freedom

Rohingya refugee children gathered in a playground Dec. 18 at the Kutupalong refugee camp near Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. The plight of Rohingya refugees was mentioned in the U.S. State Department’s annual International Religious Freedom Report.

WASHINGTON — Everyone has "a stake in this fight" for religious freedom, said the U.S. ambassador at large for international religious freedom, Sam Brownback.

"One person's bondage is another person's burden to break," he told reporters May 29. "We're all people with beautiful and undeniable human dignity. Our lives are sacred. Our right to choose the road our conscience takes is inalienable."

Brownback joined U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at a news conference to release the annual International Religious Freedom Report, which covers the period between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2017.

Catholics urged to work for ‘holiness of freedom, freedom for holiness’

Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori delivered the homily at the opening Mass of the Fortnight for Freedom June 21 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore. Archbishop Lori is chairman of the bishops’ religious liberty committee.

BALTIMORE — When Henry VIII, as England's reigning monarch, was declared "a defender of the faith," the future "must have seemed so bright to Thomas More and John Fisher," Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori said in a homily June 21.

He described an England which "seemed to have been spared the painful divisions that racked the Catholic Church on the continent of Europe." Under Henry, he said, "monastic life and learning were flourishing" while "ordinary Catholics showed their love and loyalty to the Church."

U.S. urged to be more vigorous in protecting religious freedom globally

WASHINGTON — A U.S. congressman told attendees at a Washington summit on Christian persecution that "more than ever before, vigorous U.S. leadership and diplomacy are needed to address religious freedom violations globally."

"Religious persecution is festering and exploding around the world. What has been unconscionable for decades, centuries, has gotten worse," Rep. Chris Smith, R-New Jersey, said May 12 in remarks at the World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians.

Prelates say House bill would protect religious freedom at federal level

WASHINGTON — The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a hearing July 12 on the First Amendment Defense Act, a bill two U.S archbishops said would provide "a measure of protection for religious freedom at the federal level."

The legislation was introduced June 17 by Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho. The same day Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, introduced the measure as S. 1598 in the Senate. Members of Congress adjourned July 14 for a seven-week recess.

WITNESSES TO FREEDOM | U.S. bishops continue efforts to raise awareness of religious liberty

Four years ago when the Archdiocese of St. Louis launched a campaign for religious liberty, Archbishop Robert Carlson called it a great opportunity for Catholics to "build enthusiasm for this important cause."

"Religious liberty is our first, most cherished freedom," he said. "The threat the HHS mandate poses to the Catholic Church is no small matter. It is imperative that we act now to protect the freedoms upon which this country is based."

Papal favorability numbers rise following September U.S. visit

NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- A Marist Poll survey commissioned by the Knights of Columbus found Pope Francis' favorability made significant gains among Catholics and among Americans overall in the wake of his Sept. 22-27 visit to the United States.

Among practicing Catholics, 90 percent now say they view Pope Francis favorably, up from 83 percent in August, one month before his visit. Among all Americans, the pope's numbers jumped from 58 percent to 74 percent.

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