The Missouri Catholic Conference will feature Archbishop William E. Lori as its keynote speaker at the 2012 Annual Assembly. Archbishop Lori, of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, will discuss the role of religious liberty in the public square.
In 2005, he was elected Supreme Chaplain of the Knights of Columbus, where he has the responsibility of overseeing the spiritual welfare of the Order’s 1.8 million members and their families.
In April, 2011, Archbishop Lori was the keynote speaker at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D. C., where he paid tribute to John Paul II and urged Catholics to defend his legacy of religious liberty and human dignity. In a speech widely reported across the U.S., Archbishop Lori told the gathering that religious freedom is not “a carve-out” granted by the state, but an inalienable right. He also called for the protection of “conscience rights” for health care providers.
On Sept. 29, 2011, New York Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) appointed Archbishop Lori the chair of a newly formed Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty to address growing concerns over the erosion of freedom of religion in America.
On Oct. 26, 2011, serving as new head of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Archbishop Lori called on Congress to defend the American legacy of religious liberty during a hearing before the Subcommittee on the Constitution of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee. He noted several recent actions by government entities that mark the erosion of the freedom of religion, often called the nation’s “First Freedom.” These actions include a health coverage mandate that would coerce employers to pay for services for which they have moral objections, such as abortion, sterilization and contraceptives, and government contracting decisions that exclude agencies unless they provide such services.
He also urged the House to reject