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Vatican Warns of "Unprecendented Gravity" of Threats to Church in U.S.

In its strongest statement to date, Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone issued a warning to U.S. Catholics that seems to target the Obama Administration for its denial of the right to conscientious objection.

"Concerted efforts are being made to redefine and restrict the exercise of the right to religious freedom," Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone said in a message to the Knights of Columbus.

According to the AFP, he spoke of the "urgent need" to counter "a reductive secularism which would delegitimise the church's participation in public debate about the issues which are determining the future of American society."

He asked the 1.8 million members of the Knights to continue working "tirelessly to help the Catholic community recognize and respond to the unprecedented gravity of these new threats to the church's liberty and public moral witness."

Cardinal Bertone urged US Catholics to remember "the great biblical ideals of freedom and justice which shaped the founding of the US," as well as the responsibility of each new generation "to preserve, defend and advance those great ideals."

"The challenges of the present moment are in fact yet another reminder of the decisive importance of the Catholic laity for the advancement of the Church's mission in today's rapidly changing social context," he said.

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