.- The head of the U.S. bishops' religious freedom committee, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, will address the first meeting of Italy's Religious Liberty Observatory on June 28.
The group, formed by the Italian Ministry of External Affairs and the City of Rome to monitor global threats to believers' rights, will host Archbishop Lori as he delivers an address entitled “Religious Liberty: God’s Gift to all Nations is our Responsibility to Defend.”
Open to media, the observatory's inaugural meeting will take place at 11:30 am at the Foreign Press Association in Rome.
Hours later, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on the country's health care reform law. The result will determine the course of the Church's efforts to fight a rule implemented under that law, requiring employers to cooperate in providing contraception, sterilization, and abortion-causing drugs.
Archbishop Lori will follow his talk with a 4pm Mass at the Church of Santa Maria in Trastevere. The historic church was assigned to Cardinal James Gibbons, Baltimore's ninth archbishop, on his 1887 elevation to the College of Cardinals.
Appointed to the U.S. Church's “Premier See” in May 2012, Archbishop Lori opposed local efforts to undermine the Church's self-governance during his time as the Bishop of Bridgeport, Connecticut.
On June 29, he will receive the pallium, a traditional wool garment worn by metropolitan archbishops, from Pope Benedict XVI on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul.