"The Catholic tradition rejects both approaches, he said.
In response to minimalists who deliberately undermine the freedom of the church by reducing religious expression to worship, he says, “The Church must emphasize that a robust appreciation for the specifically religiously inspired works of faith communities in health care, social service and advocacy for the marginalized lie at the core of the Gospel imperative, and any realistic notion of religious liberty in the United States.”
On the other hand, the maximalists “seek to undermine the legitimate authority of the state by endorsing an ever expanding notion of individual rights of conscience in the public sphere without due regard for the governmental pursuit of the common good.”
“This, too,” he says, “is a distortion of the Catholic doctrine of religious liberty.” The church must reject both extremes.
McElroy finds support in Murray’s position that “The right to conscience in public expression is ultimately rooted in the dignity of the human person and the pursuit of the common good. And the public order, that part of the common good which falls to government, is a wholly legitimate pursuit of government even when that common good necessitates restrictions upon the public actions of believers acting in the light of their conscience.”
The church “must defend absolutely the rights of conscience to internal belief, point to the moral warrants for the robust freedom of religious communities, and outline the nuanced Catholic teaching on the rights of believers to act upon their beliefs in society,” says McElroy. “But the Church must be equally dedicated to defending the corresponding governmental right to — at times — restrict conscience-driven actions in pursuit of a genuine common good.”
This balanced position by the church is especially needed in the toxic atmosphere of American politics." .