SOUTH BEND, Indiana, Nov. 23, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Pope Benedict’s emissary to the United States warned earlier this month that Catholic professors and public officials who rebel from Church teaching on key issues such as abortion and marriage represent a “grave” threat to religious liberty.

“We have witnessed that some instructors who claim the moniker ‘Catholic’ are often the sources of teachings that conflict with, rather than explain and defend, Catholic teachings in the important public policy issues of the day,” said Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò. “This, my brothers and sisters, is a grave and major problem that challenges the first freedom of religious liberty and the higher purpose of the human person.”

In an address at the University of Notre Dame, the papal nuncio said the Church is weakened and thus “more easily persecuted” when she is divided by Catholic faithful who support “a major political party [with] intrinsic evils among its basic principles.”

The persecution of Christians is a reality even in America, he said, though it can present itself in forms that are not immediately obvious.

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He pointed to the “legitimate concerns” over Obamacare, particularly the HHS mandate. But he also mentioned the Parker v. Hurley decision in Massachusetts, where parents were forbidden to withdraw their young children from discussions of “family diversity,” and Judge Vaughan Walker’s decision overturning Proposition 8, California’s traditional marriage amendment.

“The problem of persecution begins with … reluctance to accept the public role of religion in [public] affairs, especially but not always when the protection of religious freedom involves beliefs that the powerful of the political society do not share,” he said.

But the nuncio also said there is reason for hope, because “throughout her history, the Church has gained strength when persecuted.”

“With God’s help we can prevail, but without Him, even our greatest human strength is insufficient because it is frail,” he added.

See Archbishop Viganò‘s full talk here.

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