Spirituality for Today – August 2009 – Volume 14, Issue 1

Thank You, Mr. Attorney General

By The Most Reverend William E. Lori, S.T.D., Bishop Of Bridgeport

On July 1, the Office of State Ethics announced it would abide by the Attorney General's opinion (discussed below) and drop its action against the Diocese of Bridgeport. This is welcome news, not only for the Diocese but for all citizens who cherish the fundamental rights guaranteed by the First Amendment.

We look forward to receiving written confirmation from the Office of State Ethics. At that time we will make a decision on our lawsuit.

On June 30, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal of the State of Connecticut called on the Office of State Ethics (OSE) to abandon its lobbying enforcement action against the Diocese of Bridgeport, related to our Diocese's organization of a rally at the State Capitol and our website communications aimed at opposing Raised Bills 1098 and 899 in the Connecticut General Assembly.

In his opinion, the Attorney General stated that "there is no denying the profound and serious constitutional concerns in enforcing the lobbyist registration laws against the Church under these circumstances."

Thank you, Mr. Attorney General

His opinion is a truly significant announcement that stands not just with our State's Catholics but with all citizens of the State whose fundamental civil liberties were placed in jeopardy by the application by the OSE of the State's lobbying registration requirements.

It is essential that citizens have the right to organize and communicate their views to their government without being required to register as lobbyists. The Attorney General is unambiguous in his view as the State's chief legal officer that the "risk of chilling constitutionally protected political expression by the Church and its members" is "intolerable."

We were also pleased that the Attorney General's opinion recognizes that this action merited particular care in light of the fact that the actions of the Diocese that were challenged by the OSE came in direct response to raised Bill 1098, a clearly unconstitutional proposal to interfere with the internal organization and governance of the Catholic Church.

In his opinion, the Attorney General stated that the "the constitutional concerns raised in the [Diocese's] lawsuit have special significance" because they involved "a religious organization's efforts to protest perceived government entanglement and intrusion in its affairs."

We are hopeful that the opinion from the Attorney General will allow us to concentrate even more of our energies in meeting the increased demand for social services in our State. As a Church our mission is to preach the Gospel, teach our Faith, and celebrate the Sacraments. Our religious faith and mission compels us to affirm and defend persistently the dignity of the human person by word and deed. We put our faith into action through our social and educational services.

As the largest non-governmental provider of educational and human services, we believe the Catholic Church is a critical part of the solution to our State's economic and social challenges.

Read the Attorney General's letter to the State Ethics Director.
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This article courtesy of Bishop Lori's Blog