Church and state debate renewed

Jim Mandro, a Roman Catholic from West Haven, doesn’t go to church to hear political sermons.

But the 48-year-old former bus driver said he thinks Catholics had been “beaten down by the media and the liberals,” particularly on same-sex marriage, abortion rights and the Obama administration’s mandate requiring church-affiliated colleges and hospitals to offer insurance plans that cover birth control.

“I believe in separation of church and state unless the state is dictating to the church what it can and can’t do…Then the church should fire back,” Mandro said Friday afternoon, as he waited for a rally in support of religious freedom to start on the New Haven green.

The rally was part of a campaign by the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops to urge parishioners, including Mandro, to fight back against what they view as a series of government encroachments into religious freedom, which they call “our first, most cherished liberty.”

Beginning June 20 and concluding on Independence Day, Catholic parishes from Connecticut to California will participate in “Fortnight for Freedom,” a two-week campaign of prayer, reflection and activism.

“To be Catholic and American should mean not having to choose one over the other. Our allegiances are distinct, but they need not be contradictory, and should instead be complementary,” the bishops wrote in an April statement outlining the campaign.

The Bishops Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty — led by William E. Lori, formerly bishop of Bridgeport and now the archbishop of Baltimore — rejects the notion that this is a partisan issue targeting Obama and the Democrats.

“The Constitution is not for Democrats or Republicans or Independents,” the bishops’ statement said. “It is for all of us, and a great nonpartisan effort should be led by our elected representatives to ensure that it remains so.” [More]


The Hartford Courant