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Religious Freedom is Being Challenged in Fundamental Ways


WASHINGTON (CNS) — Religious freedom is being challenged in fundamental ways, according to speakers at a panel discussion on “Religious Liberty and the Future: Faith, Skepticism, Culture and Hope” at the Heritage Foundation in Washington Jan. 21.

Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore said the fundamental problems include “the decoupling of our basic freedoms from the search for truth.”

He noted that 50 years ago, the Second Vatican Council issued a document on religious freedom known as “Dignitatis Humanae” (“Of Human Dignity”).

Some of those debating the document wanted it to focus only on the freedom from coercion, which is important. “Indeed,” he said, “no government and no social force should coerce individuals or groups in religious matters, and that made its way into the document.”

However, the archbishop added, other Vatican II fathers, including then-Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, later Pope John Paul II, argued that religious freedom is linked to the search for truth — truth about the human person made in God’s image and endowed with free will, made for the search for truth. Archbishop Lori, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty, was joined on the panel by Kevin D. Roberts, president of Wyoming Catholic College in Lander, Wyoming; and Roger Severino, director of the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at the Heritage Foundation.