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Priest says "rational" religious views can influence public policy

Religious views influence government policy when they are stated in ways understandable to a pluralistic society and can stand the test of reason and public debate, according to Fr J. Bryan Hehir, Harvard University professor of religion and public life.

But "you can't translate all you want into the laws of the land and the world", warned Fr Hehir, also president of Catholic Charities of the Boston Archdiocese.

Fr Hehir was speaking at last Friday's panel discussion on religion and foreign policy sponsored by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life based in Washington.

For the US Catholic Church, the clergy sex abuse scandals have been "disastrous" in terms of church influence on public policy, he said.

"We have to climb a mountain now of doubt and skepticism in addition to making our point," he said.

Panelists identified a growing religious influence in American political life, but noted that the religious views were themselves pluralistic and sometimes contradictory, providing positive and negative consequences for society.

Religious views influence policy when tested by reason, says priest (Catholic News Service 19/10/04)

Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life | Liberty and Power: A Dialogue on Religion and U.S. Foreign Policy
Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of Boston

21 Oct 2004