"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."
The First Amendment of the US Constitution
Why Religious Freedom?
Religious liberty has been the cornerstone of our country, it was so important that it was framed in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The vision held by our Founding Father was for a separation of Church and State so that religious freedom could be ensured.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that all men are bound to seek the truth, especially in what concerns God and that no one may be forced to act against his convictions, nor restrained from acting in accordance with his conscience in religious matters in private or in public. This right is based on the very nature of the human person. (cf. 2106)
In a message during the World Day of Peace, 2011, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI had this to say:
"Religious freedom expresses what is unique about the human person, for it allows us to direct our personal and social life to God, in whose light the identity, meaning and purpose of the person are fully understood. To deny or arbitrarily restrict this freedom is to foster a reductive vision of the human person; to eclipse the public role of religion is to create a society which is unjust, inasmuch as it fails to take account of the true nature of the human person; it is to stifle the growth of the authentic and lasting peace of the whole human family."
Our roots, both civic and religious recall that we are a people guided by the loving providence of God. Yet, little by little our First Amendment rights have come into question by our civil authorities. The Constitution has been interpreted to mean God, religious conviction and morality have no place in public life or public policy. Does this build a society of goodwill among all people when the society admits of no spiritual principle of integrity or no moral bond of cohesion?
During this time when our Religious Liberty is threatened by new mandates from our government leaders, let us pray for the guidance and wisdom of God for our nation's governing body, and the courage to stand up for and defend the truths of our faith. In God We Trust!
Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship
"We need to participate for the common good. Sometimes we hear: a good Catholic is not interested in politics. This is not true: good Catholics immerse themselves in politics by offering the best of themselves so that the leader can govern."
Pope Francis, 9/16/13
The Catholic bishops of the United States have offered to the Catholic Faithful a document Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, which covers Catholic Social Principles on the political responsibility of each one of us. This document will help us to know the Catholic teaching regarding our rights and duties as a participant in our democracy.
The Bishops are urgeing all of us to use this statement to help form our consciences; to teach those entrusted to our care; to contribute to civil and respectful public dialogue; and to shape political choices in the coming election in light of Catholic teaching.
For more information on this document and to read it in it's entirety, check out the website of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.