Religious liberty is the preeminent social justice issue. One can characterize religious freedom as an “inward” issue only if one accepts the very view our conference is struggling against — that religion should be confined to the sacristy.
When we speak about religious freedom as the first of the freedoms it’s not to aggrandize the Church but to uphold the first line of defense for the dignity of the human person.
At the same time, we are also defending the freedom of the Church to bring her social teaching robustly into national and international debates and discussions that affect the common good.
And we are defending religious liberty so as to secure the right of all churches, including the Catholic Church, to continue providing educational and social services in accord with their teaching and practice, to the needy and the vulnerable.
Far from being an “inward” issue, religious freedom is basic to all the Church strives to do outwardly in building “a civilization of truth and love.”