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Cardinal Wuerl calls religion the 'conscience' of democracy


MICHELLE BAUMAN

Source:
CNA
Type:
Media/Opinion
Date:
9/13/2012

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ABSTRACTCardinal Wuerl calls religion the 'conscience' of democracy :: Catholic News Agency (CNA) Editors Service About us Donate Spanish Portuguese Follow us: Loading News Headlines Vatican Americas Asia - Pacific US Europe Middle East - Africa Most Read Most Commented Archive Mandate Resources Abortion Advent Apologetics Benedict XVI Bible Cardinals Catechism Catholic Links Catholic Womanhood Church Fathers Holy Week Life & Family Liturgical Calendar Liturgy Mary Politics Prayers Sacraments Saints Virtue Tools Catholic Podcast RSS Feeds CNA TV CNA Audio Columns A Life Worth Living Answering the Tough Questions Bishops' Corner Book Reviews Both Oars In Catholic & Single Catholic Men Guest Columnist Harvesting the Fruit of Vatican II In Good Company Indispensable Economics Inside the Church during WWII Led Into the Truth Movie Reviews Preparing the way for the Roman Missal – 3rd Edition The New (& the Old) Evangelization The Spirit of the New Translation The Way of Beauty With Good Reason Your Moment in the Mass Documents Pope Benedict XVI Pope John Paul II Pope Paul VI Pope John XXIII Pope Pius XII Pope Pius XI Pope Pius X Pope Leo XIII Vatican II Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith Pontifical Council for the Family United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Cardinal James Francis Stafford Archbishop Charles J. Chaput Bishop Samuel J. Aquila Catholic Womanhood Home » News » US Cardinal Wuerl calls religion the 'conscience' of democracy By Michelle Bauman Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington DC speaks at religious freedom symposium Sept.13, 2012 at Georgetown University. Washington D.C., Sep 13, 2012 / 05:03 pm ( CNA/EWTN News ) .- Since America's founding, its people have understood the importance of religion as the conscience of the culture and necessary for a society to flourish, said Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, D.C. From the earliest days of our country's history, religion has been understood as playing a “vital role” in public life and a clear “part of the very fabric of our nation,” the cardinal explained. “We may have quibbled over expressions of faith. We may have even been hostile to one another's faith,” he said. “But we never argued that faith doesn't belong as the foundation for our understanding of how we relate to one another and our obligations to one another.” Cardinal Wuerl delivered the keynote address at the Catholic Perspectives on Religious Liberty symposium at Georgetown University on Sept. 13. The event was hosted by the Maryland Catholic Bishops Conference and the Religious Freedom Project of Georgetown University's Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs. The cardinal explained that religious faith has always been "deeply embedded" in American culture. While the work of religious schools, hospitals and social ministries are important, he said, these “tangible human services” are not the only contributions that religion offers to society. “With religious faith comes a way of living, a set of standards for moral and civil behavior,” he explained, adding that these expectations are “woven into the very fabric of our societal life.” “'You shall not kill' is not simply a legal convention of any particular political persuasion, but rather a moral imperative rooted in our human nature, proclaimed by our religious heritage and intrinsic to the identity of all of us as a people,” he said. Cardinal Wuerl pointed to numerous examples of early political speeches, sermons and documents that acknowledge religion’s role in a successful democracy. Importantly, he noted, those who heard and read these early statements were not shocked by them because "religion as a presupposition for the political prosperity of our infant republic was simply accepted.” “The natural moral law was the primary lens through which Americans perceived the basis of their legal system,” he explained. Therefore, religious liberty was viewed as a critical freedom, intimately connected to political liberty and leading to a fruitful discussion over policy decisions, he said. Americans have long understood that religious liberty is an inherent part of being human, not a privilege granted by the state, he observed, while at the same time recognizing that the various faith traditions serve the interests of the state by teaching their respective followers to live peacefully and respectfully. It is fair to say that in a democracy, both “Church and state are home of the same people,” he explained, because the laws come from the people, who are formed by the moral convictions of their respective faith traditions. Today, however, this “essential quality” of faith is often pushed aside, Cardinal Wuerl warned.   When religion is confined to the private sphere and traditional moral teaching is sil.......