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The Archdiocese of Baltimore has a long tradition in promoting and protecting religious freedom and will soon have a new Archbishop: the Most Reverend William E. Lori, currently the Bishop of Bridgeport, Connecticut. Following are some of his words, from a recent interview, where the Archbishop-designate of Baltimore spoke about threats to religious freedom in the United States.

Back about a year ago, under the leadership of Archbishop Dolan (now Cardinal Dolan), the Bishops had a very serious discussion.

“And we recognized, that over time, religious liberty in the United States has eroded: bad laws, bad court decisions, and of course the increasingly secular character of our society have all come together to erode our first liberty, which is religious liberty.

“So, the Cardinal decided to create an ‘ad hoc Committee’ to defend and to foster religious liberty and he asked me if I would chair it and I’m honored to do this.

“But, in the mean time, with the ‘Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act’, PPACA for short, or ‘ObamaCare’ as we know it, a problem arose that required our immediate attention. Namely, that in implementing this law, which never had adequate ‘conscience protection’ the government proposed a very bad mandate and what it did was that they (the government) were mandating that Church organizations provide services, so-called ‘services’ that violate the teaching of the Church.

“Namely, (providing for): abortion causing drugs, surgical sterilizations, and  contraception and, in deciding which religious organizations were exempt from this mandate, and which were non-exempt, it imposed a very narrow definition on which religious organizations would be exempt, namely those that hired their own members, served their own members and existed  only to propagate their own doctrine.

“Well, that sort of leaves out Jesus and the Apostles, Mother Teresa doesn’t qualify, certainly the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal don’t seem to qualify, and so we raised a protest.

“We said, “Wait a minute! This isn’t us! You don’t have a right to define us!”

“And then they said, “Well then there’s another category of ‘you guys'” and we said,  “Oh really? Tell us about it.”

“They said there are religious non-exempt organizations like universities, or hospitals, and they (the government bureaucrats) think about them as ‘secular enterprises with a religious connection.’ And, of course those are not exempt and we said, “Wait a minute! Who are you, O government, to sort out our religious institutions and to tell us that they are secular?”

“Our health care institutions, our social service agencies, our schools, colleges, universities, these all come from the proclamation of God’s Word and from the celebration of the Sacraments. And, they are manifestations of the Church’s care and concern for the common good. And, they are the Gospel in action.

“So, we’re having a tough time. The administration (of the U.S. Federal Government) has proposed a ‘so-called accommodation’ saying, “Well, O.K. if  you have a problem providing these things then maybe the insurance companies can pay for this.”

“It’s sort of like, when you are in college, and you ask the older kid in college, you give him money to go buy your beer for you; it’s a  little bit like that.

“We are all self-insured and so, this idea that the insurance company can provide this doesn’t make any sense because we aren’t only the  provider of services, we’re the employer, and the insurer. So, it’s a tough time…”

“When it comes to contraception, sterilization, and abortifacients the administration will ‘brook no descent.’ It’s really sort of shocking.

Click here to see and hear Bishop William E. Lori (Chairman of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops [USCCB] Committee on Religious Liberty) as he appeared on EWTN’s Sunday Night Prime show, that aired on 25 March 2012 and recorded at the Jesuit campus of Fairfield University in Fairfield, Connecticut.

Archbishop-designate of Baltimore: Most Rev. William E. Lori

11 years as Bishop of Bridgeport, Connecticut and Supreme Chaplain of the Knights of Columbus