Saturday, September 26, 2015

Religious Freedom Report 09.26.15

The Pope in America dominated most of the news this week and he did address issue of religious freedom several times.

From Various Reports:
New York Times:
On the final leg of his first trip to the United States, Francis arrived in Philadelphia and went straight to the city’s Roman Catholic basilica, exhorting ordinary Catholics to bolster their role in sustaining the church. After a Mass before 2,400 people and a long midday rest, he traveled to Independence Mall and broadened his canvas: addressing the place of faith in a nation.
Religious freedom means the right to worship God, “as our consciences dictate,” Francis said. And, he went on, the principle goes beyond temples and the private sphere: Religion also serves society, especially as a bulwark “in the face of every claim to absolute power.”

The archbishop of Philadelphia, Charles Chaput, an ardent culture warrior, said he asked the Pope to address religious freedom in the birthplace of American independence.
Francis paid historical homage to those values, citing, for example, the Quakers who founded this city. But there were no explicit references to any of the U.S. Catholic bishops' recent battles over religious rights.
There was no mention, for example, of the Little Sisters of the Poor's lawsuit against the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act. (On Wednesday, though Francis did meet with the nuns in Washington -- a "show of support," according to a Vatican spokesman.)

"The Quakers who founded Philadelphia were inspired by a profound evangelical sense of the dignity of each individual and the ideal of a community united by brotherly love," he said. "This conviction led them to found a colony which would be a haven of religious freedom and tolerance. That sense of fraternal concern for the dignity of all, especially the weak and the vulnerable, became an essential part of the American spirit."
He also said, "You should never be ashamed of your traditions. Do not forget the lessons you learned from your elders, which are something you can bring to enrich the life of this American land."

A bit of a mixed interpretation from an ACLU Director, a Notre Dame Professor, and a constitution Law expert offering their take on the Pope via the Washington Post:
“We certainly agree religious freedom is a fundamental right; what the pope called ‘one of Americans’ most precious possessions.’ But it’s not a blank check to discriminate against or harm others,” said Daniel Mach, director of the ACLU’s Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief.
The pope has focused on immigration and climate change on this trip, while also talking about religious freedom as foundational issue.
“He seems to be using his visit as an opportunity to remind Americans that religious freedom is not supposed to be a ‘conservative’ issue, but rather a fundamental human-rights issue,” said Richard Garnett, an expert on religious liberty at the University of Notre Dame.
Marci Hamilton, a constitutional law expert who is academic curator for religious liberty at the National Constitution Center
– where the Liberty Bell is – said the talk sounded like the pope had been heavily influenced by U.S. bishops.

“The term ‘public square’ is right out of American politics. From Francis, you’d expect the focus to be on the poor, the needy
– and suddenly we’re talking about these abstract concepts. It just didn’t seem grounded in concrete reality the way he normally is,” Hamilton said.

But of course, the heathen raged (Psalm 2:1):
Let us remember that although Francis is a step up from previous Popes, his Church has done little more than lip service to truly reform Catholicism's animus towards gays, women, and population control. Although I believe that The Pope is sincere in his emphasis on the plight of the poor, by refusing to support birth control (a refusal reiterated in his encyclical against global warming) he not only perpetuates the very poverty he abhors, but supports Church policies that harm women in unexpected ways, as in the refusal of a Catholic hospital to perform a simple procedure that might save the life of Jessica Mann. --Jerry Coyne at the New Republic