Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Pope Benedict's Appreciation for America's Religious Liberty

Following up on his post "America - A Model for Catholic Europe" at the Benedict in America blog, which linked to Sandro Magister's examination of Pope Benedict's fascination with the U.S. model for managing the Church-State divide, Christopher Blosser further explores the Holy Father's appreciation for religious liberty in America and how the balancing of Church-State relations in this country has helped contribute to stronger religious identity.

Definitely worth a read.

Tom McFeely has written an article for the April 13-19 issue of National Catholic Register titled "The Pope of America" [available by subscription only], which makes the same point. Here's an excerpt:
... The Public Square

Another American initiative the Pope has praised on a number of occasions is the U.S. attitude towards religious freedom and the relationship between church and state.

Father Richard John Neuhaus, editor in chief of First Things and author of The Naked Public Square: Religion and Democracy in America, said in an e-mail interview that America is more open than Europe to allowing religion to participate in public life.

“Europeans and the Europeanized intellectuals in America are generally, and often radically, committed to the naked public square — meaning public life divorced from religion and religiously grounded moral argument,” Father Neuhaus said. “Practical politicians in this country, however, recognize the inescapability of religion’s engagement with public questions and try to accommodate, and sometimes exploit, that connection to their advantage.”

Father Neuhaus pointed to organizations like the Washington-based Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and the Michigan-based Thomas More Law Center as examples of American organizations that are promoting religious rights in public life.

Becket Fund President Kevin Hasson said that the United States has not been perfect in its approach to religion in public life. But the American experience in living out Thomas Jefferson’s insight that “it is a truth that the exercise of religion should be free” provided a subsequent opening, at the time of the Second Vatican Council, “for the Church’s reflection on religious freedom as an exercise in the dynamics of truth and freedom,” he said.

Hasson noted the Becket Fund defends equally the rights of all religions, but it does so on the basis of the Catholic vision of the dignity of the human person. And while his organization is not associated directly with the Vatican, Hasson said, “We probably rhyme a lot of the time with what the Vatican wants to do.”

He also said Benedict’s rejection of relativism is “absolutely key” to defending religious freedom.

“Both as Cardinal Ratzinger and as Pope Benedict XVI, his insistence that religious freedom is based on truth rather than on relativism is of monumental importance,” Hasson said...

Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
"The America of Benedict XVI, a Model for Catholic Europe"

Washington's Woman at the Vatican

Pope Encourages Americans to Defend Life, Traditional Marriage and Family

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