Canadian Catholic bishops issue letter on freedom of conscience and religion

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has released a 12 page Pastoral Letter on Freedom of Conscience and Religion. While addressed to all people of good will, the bishops particularly addressed themselves to “those members of the faithful who find themselves in difficult situations where they may be pressured to act against their religious faith or their conscience.”  The document emphasizes that freedom of conscience may be acknowledged by state authority, but state authority does not create it.  Among the examples of violations of freedom of conscience, the document cites rules requiring referral for abortion by objecting physicians and the demand that objecting pharmacists dispense contraceptives or the ‘morning after pill.’  It recommends four strategies: affirmation of the role of religion in the public square, upholding a healthy relationship between Church and stated, forming conscience according to truth, and protecting the right to conscientious objection

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