In response to the Nov. 27 op-ed column by E.J. Dionne, Jr., “How the Catholic Church can learn from its works of mercy”:
For more than 2,000 years, the Church has encountered every kind of political power — good, bad, and downright ugly. Through it all, the paramount concern of the Church has been her freedom to carry out her mission without undue interference from the secular state.
That includes freedom to teach and bear witness to her beliefs, to worship without hindrance, and to organize and regulate internal matters according to church law, while respecting just civil laws.
In our country, the decision by the Obama Administration to undermine conscience protections for religious belief, and to have the government decide what is “Catholic enough” to merit an exemption from its mandates, is unprecedented. Other government actions, not just at the federal level, are having the effect of driving the Church out of the very works of mercy that Mr. Dionne praises.
These include the Church’s efforts to assist the victims of human trafficking without referring them to abortion services, and to place children for adoption in homes in which a married man and woman are father and mother.
For Mr. Dionne, the strong reaction of the Catholic bishops to these government intrusions on religious freedom is associated with a “tilt rightward” and even the transformation of the church by some into “a militantly right-wing political organization.”
However, what is really being transformed? The Church and its bishops, who are simply upholding beliefs that have always been part of the Catholic religion, or government and its elected leaders, who now seem to be saying that there will be little or no room for these beliefs in a new social order?
LEONARD P. BLAIR
Bishop Diocese of Toledo Spielbusch Avenue
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