Text of papal address to U.S. bishops on secularism, religious freedom

UPDATE: Story: Pope warns of threat to freedom of religion, conscience in US

By Francis X. Rocca
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — In an unusually strong speech to visiting U.S. bishops this morning in Rome, Pope Benedict warned that militant secularism threatens the core values of American culture, including religious freedom, and he called on the church in America to render “public moral witness” on the great issues of the day. Here is the text of the pope’s speech:

Dear Brother Bishops,

I greet all of you with fraternal affection and I pray that this pilgrimage of spiritual renewal and deepened communion will confirm you in faith and commitment to your task as Pastors of the Church in the United States of America. As you know, it is my intention in the course of this year to reflect with you on some of the spiritual and cultural challenges of the new evangelization.

One of the most memorable aspects of my Pastoral Visit to the United States was the opportunity it afforded me to reflect on America’s historical experience of religious freedom, and specifically the relationship between religion and culture. At the heart of every culture, whether perceived or not, is a consensus about the nature of reality and the moral good, and thus about the conditions for human flourishing. In America, that consensus, as enshrined in your nation’s founding documents, was grounded in a worldview shaped not only by faith but a commitment to certain ethical principles deriving from nature and nature’s God. Today that consensus has eroded significantly in the face of powerful new cultural currents which are not only directly opposed to core moral teachings of the Judeo-Christian tradition, but increasingly hostile to Christianity as such. Continue reading