Christians face 'bloodless persecution' in U.S. amid 'severest threats' to religious freedom, warns Baltimore Archbishop

Baltimore Archbishop William Lori says institutions protecting religious freedom and morality are 'under assault.'(Knights of Columbus website)

Baltimore Archbishop William Lori says institutions protecting religious freedom and morality 'under assault'

Most of us tend to think of persecution among Christians in the extreme and violent sense: death, torture, rape or the outright forbidding of the practice of religion, mostly in areas controlled by extremists.

A Roman Catholic archbishop, however, warned that there is such a thing as "bloodless" persecution, and it is happening in the nation that is supposed to be one of the freest in the world, the United States.

During his address at the opening of the Divine Mercy University in Virginia, Baltimore Archbishop William Lori said Catholic institutions in America are "experiencing the severest threats to their religious liberty" at present.

Lori, who is also the supreme chaplain of the Knights of Columbus and chairs the U.S. Bishops' Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty, said institutions that are supposed to protect religious freedom and morality end up being "under assault."

"The institutions that are under challenge are places of mercy that seek to bring the healing balm of truth, love, and human skill to the spiritual, emotional, and physical wounds of human existence, to be indeed the 'field hospital' amid a culture where many are wounded daily," the archbishop said, as quoted by LifeSiteNews.

To illustrate his point, the Roman Catholic official cited the legalisation of same-sex marriage and U.S. President Barack Obama's contraceptive mandate as particular threats to religious freedom.

"We have only to think about the arbitrary redefinition of marriage and family or anti-family welfare and relief policies. As these intermediate structures either disappear or come under the direct control of the government, our society becomes less merciful and more impersonal, less apt to be a setting for human flourishing," Lori said.

The prelate urged the faithful and all Christian groups to be steadfast in promoting values, especially during this year, called the Holy Year of Mercy by Catholics.

This year "presents us with a graced opportunity to see the most fundamental of our freedoms, religious freedom, through the prism of God's mercy and compassion," he said.