International Religious Freedom

Today, I spoke at the Catholic University of America about international religious freedom. I would like to share a copy of my speech with you.

Here is an excerpt:

Today our focus is on threats to international religious freedom, but, as you are well aware, there are serious challenges to religious freedom within our own nation,  serious problems the Church faces in her life and mission in the United States — threats that could marginalize the Church and her educational, charitable and health care institutions.  As grave as these challenges remain, they are of a different order than those faced by Christians and other people of faith in many countries.  In the words of Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States of the Holy See, “Of course, nobody would confuse or equate this marginalization of religion with the actual persecution and killing of Christians in other areas of the world.”[1]  Not only is it morally imperative, consonant with the urgent gospel demands of justice and charity, for us as Catholics to be prophetic leaders in defending our co-religionists around the world who are today being “thrown to the lions,” but it is strategicallynecessary, as our own laudable efforts to defend our “first and most cherished freedom” here at home, are hollow and hypocritical if not coupled with a ringing solicitude for those under more overtly violent attack throughout the world.

In all of our deliberations here we must remember that the absence of religious freedom in countries around the world leads to terrible human suffering.  We hold in our hearts images of bloodied bodies lying lifeless amidst the rubble of bombed houses of worship, and the anguished faces of family members mourning their loss.  We remember the anxious looks of refugees leaving behind homes and livelihoods as they flee religious discrimination or outright persecution.   My hope is that we will together find ways to build societies respectful of the religious freedom of all persons and communities, a freedom at the foundation of all others, a freedom we Americans of all creeds, or none at all, rise to defend, at home and beyond.


Click here to view a PDF copy of my speech.

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2 Responses to “International Religious Freedom”

  1. THANK YOU FOR THE WEB SITE AND I WILL TELL EVERYONE HERE IN PENNSYLVANIA WHERE TO LOOK FOR THE TRUTH CONCERNING THIS AFFRONT AGAINST ALL RELIGIOUS FREEDOM. SOMEHOW IN SPITE OF THE FACT THAT WE HAVE MORE GOOD HOLY PEOPLE, IT SEEMS THAT THOSE WHO ARE DECEIVED WITHIN THE CHURCH HAVE PLACED THEMSELVES IN POSITIONS WHERE THEY CAN STOP ANYTHING FROM BEING DISCLOSED. GOD KNOWS IT GOES THE SAME PLACE AS THE MANDATES ON THE LITURGY….IGNORED.
    GOD BLESS YOU AND MAY OUR PRAYERS STORM HEAVEN AND HELP US TO SAVE OUR COUNTRY.

  2. Phil says:

    Cardinal Dolan makes excellent points, in his usual highly articulate manner, but the words he has shared here seem to neglect a most important principle.

    Charity begins at home.

    The biggest threat to the Church comes not from outside, but from within the Church itself. This is good news as it means we retain a great degree of control over our own destiny as Catholics.

    As example…

    If the gay community were to follow the example being set by the Church, they would be publicly calling Catholic sex a perversion and a sin, and organizing politically to deny Catholics the right to marry other Catholics.

    The lesson here is, we shall reap what we have sown. It’s called justice.

    The Church can not be a credible defender of it’s own rights so long as it is energetically invested in a process of denying legitimate rights, rights we claim for ourselves, even to loyal members of it’s own congregation, for no good reason.

    The most effective way to defend religious liberty is to extend to others that which we hope they will extend to us.

    This is called the golden rule. It’s a truly Christian principle, and an excellent system for defending the Church.