To see the Bishops in the Catholic Church of the United States wringing their hands over the term “religious liberty” today, one might conclude it had always been against government involvement in religious matters.
The concept of the founding fathers that government would endorse no religion seemed a bad idea to an earlier Catholic Church. Better that the government endorse and enforce a religion.
On the site, Religious Dispatches, today was an account of the Church’s change in thinking. Leo XIII was Pope for 25 years in the late 1800’s. He is known for being a big thinker with an eye on the future.
One thing that upset him was the Catholic Church in the U. S. In addition to not liking the Constitution, he was upset with some of the U. S. Bishops who seemed to have the outlandish view the U. S. Church was going to be different than that of Europe. He chastised a U. S. Bishop for saying the Church needed to adjust to the local culture.
About church and state, Pope Leo XIII noted it would be a mistake for other countries to separate church and state like the U. S. The church would be better off if it “…enjoyed the laws and the patronage of the public authority.”
Before the current requirement the church offer birth control to its employees doing government work, the Catholic Church liked the European way of church and state in bed with each other.