130th Supreme Convention

IN DEFENSE OF RELIGIOUS LIBERTY

WHEREAS, the Catholic Church teaches that the right to religious freedom is based upon the inherent dignity of the human person, which is known through both reason and divine revelation; and

WHEREAS, the right to religious freedom is guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States; and

WHEREAS, religious freedom means that all persons are to be free from coercion in matters of belief and conscience, and that no person should be forced to act in a manner contrary to his or her own beliefs or conscience; and

WHEREAS, during his visit to the United States in 2008, Pope Benedict XVI reminded us that it should never be necessary to deny God in order to enjoy our rights and that it is inconceivable that believers should have to suppress their faith in order to be active citizens; and

WHEREAS, the Church consistently teaches that religious freedom is an inalienable right which should be recognized in the governing laws of each country in such a way that it is acknowledged as a basic civil right; and

WHEREAS, religious freedom is not a benefit that a government confers out of a sense of mere tolerance and that can be removed, but rather it is an inalienable right, rooted in the transcendent dignity of every human being; and

WHEREAS, religious freedom is at the very heart of human rights because it encompasses freedom of speech, assembly and conscience, which together form the basis of civil society and respect for the individual; and

WHEREAS, on August 1, 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued preliminary regulations pursuant to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that require all Americans to subsidize health insurance plans that provide full coverage for surgical sterilizations and contraception, including abortifacients such as “morning after” pills; and 

WHEREAS, these abortion-inducing drugs attack a developing unborn child either before or after implantation in the mother’s womb; and

WHEREAS, on January 20, 2012, the Obama administration finalized this mandate and announced that nonprofit religious institutions, including the Catholic Church, would have one year to comply with the rule, and that no exemption would be granted for Catholic hospitals, dioceses, charities, social service agencies, schools, colleges and universities; and

WHEREAS, the mandate also forces private Catholic employers and businesses — such as the Knights of Columbus — to provide all employees with insurance coverage that includes abortion-inducing drugs, contraception, and sterilization; and

WHEREAS, on February 10, 2012, the Obama administration offered to religious organizations a so-called “accommodation” which did not change the mandate and was quickly rejected by the U.S. bishops because Catholic organizations and individuals would still be forced to violate their religious convictions; and

WHEREAS, one of the rationales for this mandate — that abortifacients, contraceptives and sterilization are less expensive than childbirth — lays the groundwork for the government to one day mandate that all health insurance plans include abortion; and

WHEREAS, this mandate sets a dangerous precedent and represents one of the most serious intrusions on religious freedom in our lifetimes; and

WHEREAS, in a recent meeting with bishops from the United States, Pope Benedict XVI expressed concern over “certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of religion”;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that we will never waver in our efforts to defend religious freedom as an inherent right of all Americans; and

FURTHER RESOLVED, that as American citizens and as Knights of Columbus, we will steadfastly support the free exercise of religion as it is enshrined in the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States; and

FURTHER RESOLVED, that we stand in solidarity with our bishops in their call to the Catholic faithful, and to all Americans, to join together in the great struggle to oppose this mandate and to protect religious liberty and freedom of conscience; and

FURTHER RESOLVED, that we call upon President Obama to rescind this mandate which is a clear and direct violation of our religious liberty rights; and 

FURTHER RESOLVED, that we call upon Congress to pass, and the President to sign, legislation that will protect the constitutional right of religious institutions and individuals to be free from government coercion in health care and all other matters; and

FURTHER RESOLVED, that we will remain steadfast in our opposition to any future governmental action or policy that forces Catholic institutions and individuals to violate our most deeply held moral and religious convictions; and

FURTHER RESOLVED, that our struggle for religious freedom at this decisive moment in our nation’s history is not only for our sake, but for the sake of our children, our grandchildren and all future generations, so that they too may know a country that is “one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”