Pope Benedict XVI says Roman Catholics in the U.S. need to understand the “grave threats” to their faith posed by what he calls radical secularism in the political and cultural arenas.

He addressed visiting U.S. bishops Thursday and used the same language in warning that attempts are being made to erode their religious freedom.

Benedict did not explicitly mention it, but the bishops have complained their religious freedom is eroding in the face of growing acceptance of gay marriage and attempts to marginalize faith. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has recently formed a committee on protecting religious liberty and hired attorneys and a lobbyist to work on the issue.

The pope said many of the bishops have complained about attempts to deny conscientious objection with regard to cooperation in “intrinsically evil practices.” U.S. church leaders have been pressing for a broader religious exception to part of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul that mandates private insurers pay for contraception. The Obama administration has not yet made a decision on the policy and the timing is uncertain.

Continue Reading on www.npr.org