Father Koterski talks about defense of religious freedom
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CHARLOTTE — In this fight for religious freedom, "we're not asking for special treatment, we're asking for the same treatment that everyone ought to get," Jesuit Father Joseph Koterski said.
Father Koterski, a member of the Philosophy Department at Fordham University and the Board of Trustees of Belmont Abbey College, spoke to a crowd at the Diocese of Charlotte Pastoral Center June 18 as one of a series of "In Defense of Religious Freedom" talks sponsored by Catholic Social Services. This is his eighth year speaking to the Charlotte diocese on various topics.
Father Koterski explained that his goal through this conversation on religious liberty is to improve understanding that religious freedom "has roots in us as Americans and as Catholics." He described how the Bill of Rights and Catholic teaching, both of which describe our God-given rights, afford the faithful certain freedoms.
His speech detailed the recent religious liberty issues, including the HHS mandate that requires employers to pay for artificial birth control and sterilization and the latest developments which have prompted "vigorous responses" by the U.S. bishops calling for the faithful to defend religious liberty.
The reason the mandate has been cast as a religious liberty issue is that religious institutions are being required to do something that goes against our faith, Father Koterski said.
"The bishops have said that we regard it as a matter of religious liberty. They see the HHS mandate as having far-reaching implications. It's larger than just the contraceptive question – while it's very important. This is also a teachable moment. It's something where the issues of contraception and the Church's teaching need to be discussed. I hope there is further education so the reasons are also known."
He told a story of a friend who evangelized in Silicon Valley to his "fellow computer nerds" on issues of faith. They often rejected Church teachings because the rules seemed arbitrary, he said, but they understood better after the reasons for the rules were explained.
"My position is, people have not been talking about the reasons for the rules," Father Koterski said. "People need to be informed."
— Kimberly Bender, online reporter
Watch the full talk below:
- 7-8:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 20, St. Mary Church, 818 McGowan Road, Shelby
- 7-8:30 p.m. Thursday, June 21, St. Leo the Great Church, 335 Springdale Ave., Winston-Salem
Go to www.cssnc.org for details, directions and registration information for his talks.
These presentations are sponsored by Catholic Social Services' Office of Family Life, Respect Life and Elder Ministry programs; and by Catholic Social Services' Office of Justice and Peace.