Bishop Hubbard’s Catholics at the Capitol homily

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Bishop Hubbard’s Catholics at the Capitol homily

March 14, 2012

Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany delivered the following homily at the March 13, 2012, Catholics at the Capitol Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany.

Cardinal Dolan recently stated that we are witnessing an unprecedented effort to reduce religion to a private activity, driving religious beliefs and traditions from public life.

Never before, he said, have we faced this kind of challenge to our ability to engage in the public square as a people of faith.

I would like to build upon the Cardinal’s assessment in this homily.

As Cardinal Dolan suggests, there is a great deal of debate these days about the meaning of the First Amendment and the role of religion in the public forum. 

There are some who would seek to remove the religious voice from the public square altogether.  There are others who would limit the presence of the religious voice to the church, synagogue, mosque or temple.

America remains a religious society but increasingly religion is being relegated to our private lives as an aggressively secular culture systematically seeks to exclude religion from all public space.  Religion is deemed acceptable for private life, but, when its adherents seek to gain admittance to the public arena, they are told “to check their bags at the door.”  Under the guise of enforcing an exaggerated notion of official “neutrality,” the contemporary secular milieu actually promotes its own secular outlook to a privileged position in shaping public opinion and public policy.  Under the guise of promoting tolerance, the secularist outlook fosters the very intolerance it claims to abhor.

In other words, there has developed the phenomenon in our national life that would seek to rule religiously based values “out of order” in the public arena simply because their roots are religious.  In this view, pluralism means a public square purged of intolerance – which secularists define as the belief in exclusive truth claims which