Bishop Robert W. Muench's Abbreviated Statement on Religious Liberty
On April 12, the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty of the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement: “Our First, Most Cherished Liberty,” outlining the bishops’ concerns over threats to religious liberty, both at home and abroad. This comprehensive and cogent document covered a plethora of issues which have arisen in the last several years, spanning national, state, local, and even international, areas, of which the first was The Health and Human Services mandate forcing all employers, including religious organizations, to provide for and pay for coverage of employees’ contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs even when they have moral objections to them.
The document quoted supportive statements of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King from his famous 1963 “Letter from Birmingham Jail” and even a recent unanimous Supreme Court judgment affirming the importance of religious freedom as the first freedom.
The statement concludes with a call, suggesting the fourteen days from June 21 to July 4 “be dedicated to this ‘fortnight for freedom’, in which special events might be arranged to highlight the importance of defending our first freedom.”
I will be taking up this matter with our priests in our monthly presbyteral council meeting to plan how we might implement this suggestion in the Diocese of Baton Rouge.
In the meantime I ask all of us to pray and commit ourselves for this critical matter before us.
Robert W. Muench
Bishop of Baton Rouge