Symposiums on religious freedom set
Bishop Zubik will lead teaching presentations
A diocesan symposium on religious liberty and the Year of Faith is planned for two locations in August.
The first is Aug. 13 at St. Paul Seminary in Crafton, and the second is Aug. 20 at St. Richard Parish in Richland Township. The sessions begin at 7 p.m. with prayer, and conclude by 8:30 p.m.
Led by Bishop David Zubik -- whose chief role will be teacher, catechist and discussion facilitator -- panelists will include retired Superior Court Judge Maureen Lally-Green, associate general secretary; Rita Ferko Joyce, general counsel; and Helene Paharik, director of the Department for Human Dignity.
While Paharik's presentation will focus on "faithful citizenship" and issues of life and dignity, Lally-Green and Joyce, with expertise in legal matters, will offer their perspectives on the Constitution and the broad issues of religious freedom.
"It is important to take a step back so we can truly hear what the church teaches. In the context of prayer and with the intention of catechesis, of echoing our beautiful Catholic tradition, the Diocese of Pittsburgh is hosting a symposium on the topic of faith and freedom," Paharik said.
The symposium was presented earlier this year to diocesan clergy at a spring convocation, and because of the enthusiastic reception it is being offered to a wider audience, with the upcoming sessions open to the public.
A number of issues are being addressed, focusing on religious freedom:
-- Religious freedom is a basic human right and is integral to the establishment of a just and generous society.
-- Religious freedom is a foundational element of a vibrant democracy and helps guarantee other precious freedoms
-- Religious freedom protects the right to practice any faith or no faith. It preserves the right to follow one's conscience in acts both internal and external, in private and in public, as an individual and as a member of a community.
-- Finally, religious liberty is not merely a civil right afforded to us by our government. More fundamentally, it is a natural right due each person because of his or her human dignity."We are Catholics and we are Americans. We are proud to be both. We should not have to choose one over the other. Our allegiances are distinct and complementary. Defending religious liberty is not a Catholic issue. It is not a Jewish issue. It is not an Orthodox, Mormon or Muslim issue. It is an American issue," Paharik said.