Bishops: mandate violates conscience rights, a Q&A

How important is the right of conscience in American tradition?

It has always been of paramount importance: "No provision in our Constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience against the enterprises of the civil authority" (Thomas Jefferson, 1809).

In the past, has the federal government respected conscientious objections to procedures such as sterilization that may violate religious beliefs or moral convictions?

Editorial | 'Free to worship Him without fear' (Luke 1:74)

True, legitimate and rightful religious freedom is ever vulnerable to those who would usurp it.

The right to live in religious freedom was at the very heart of the birth of our own country. Our founders recognized that humans exist only insofar as they are in relation to God. Mindful of this foundational truth, they sought to establish a just and moral nation fully in harmony with Him.

Bishops focus on health care, religious liberty, marriage

Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport, Conn., chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, addresses the U.S. bishops at their annual fall meeting in Baltimore Nov. 14.

BALTIMORE -- During their annual three-day fall assembly in Baltimore, the U.S. bishops' discussed threats to religious liberty, efforts to support traditional marriage and the need to keep a close eye on health care issues.

On the first day of the Nov. 14-16 meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops they voted to establish a permanent Subcommittee on Health Care Issues under the jurisdiction of their Committee on Doctrine.

CCHD rebuts charges that funded groups violate Catholic teaching

Rosibel Mancillas Lopez, right, looks over the program before being honored by the U.S. bishops at their annual meeting in Baltimore Nov. 14. She received the 2011 Cardinal Bernardin New Leadership Award from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development for her work on immigration issues. The late Cardinal Bernardin is pictured in the photo at left.

WASHINGTON -- Officials with the Catholic Campaign for Human Development rebutted a report that 55 agencies funded by the U.S. bishops' anti-poverty program in 2010-11 were in conflict with Church teaching.

Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, Calif., Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, Calif., and Ralph McCloud, CCHD executive director, said the charges leveled in an American Life League study against all but one of the agencies were unfounded.

Bishops' agenda to be more devoted to internal matters

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. bishops' fall general assembly in Baltimore will be shorter than usual and focus primarily on the inner workings of the Church than on larger societal issues.

The Nov. 14-16 meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, originally scheduled to last until Nov. 17, will include a discussion on religious liberty that could touch on a wide range of topics. But the main business of the gathering will be on liturgical, financial and organizational matters.

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