VATICAN CITY -- The current U.S. debate over religious freedom should inspire Catholics in Europe to seek greater legal protection of their right to conscientious objection, according to a retired Vatican cardinal.

Believers and institutions must have a legal right to invoke conscientious objection when faced with "legislative norms that, because of their moral implications, are in conflict with moral norms officially affirmed by one's religious authorities," said Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, former president of the commission governing Vatican City State.

Published in International

The right of religious freedom means much more than merely being allowed to hold faith beliefs and go to church. Those are essential, of course, but a society that truly endorses religious freedom goes further. It also allows citizens to outwardly live their faith through the public activities they take up and, equally important, through those their conscience informs them to avoid.

In defence of that traditional understanding of religious freedom, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a bold statement four days after Easter. Titled “Our first, most cherished liberty,” the 12-page document is a manifesto for religious freedom that is blunt, provocative, timely, commendable — and worthy of export beyond American borders. Canadians should take note.

Published in Editorial