Pope Benedict on “Unprecedented Gravity” of Threats to Religious Freedom

The Vatican has warned of threats of “unprecedented gravity” to religious freedom in the United States, according to The Vatican News Service.

In a message to the 130th Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus, Pope Benedict XVI, in a message  signed by the Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, spoke of “the responsibility of each new generation to preserve, defend and advance” the ideals of religious freedom. The Pope pointed to “concerted efforts”  being made to “redefine and restrict the exercise of the right to religious freedom.”

The Knights of Columbus have long been at the forefront of the fight for religious liberty.

The message read in part:

The theme of this year’s Supreme Convention – Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land – evokes not only the great biblical ideals of freedom and justice which shaped the founding of the United States of America, but also the responsibility of each new generation to preserve, defend and advance those great ideals in its own day. At a time when concerted efforts are being made to redefine and restrict the exercise of the right to religious freedom, the Knights of Columbus have worked tirelessly to help the Catholic community recognize and respond to the unprecedented gravity of these new threats to the Church’s liberty and public moral witness. By defending the right of all religious believers, as individual citizens and in their institutions, to work responsibly in shaping a democratic society inspired by their deepest beliefs, values and aspirations, your Order has proudly lived up to the high religious and patriotic principles which inspired its founding.

The challenges of the present moment are in fact yet another reminder of the decisive importance of the Catholic laity for the advancement of the Church’s mission in today’s rapidly changing social context.