William E. Lori

Pope religious liberty talk falls short, amid list of issues

On a stage set for a blockbuster papal endorsement of the American bishops' religious liberty battle, Pope Francis didn't deliver. He side-stepped the bishops' most burning religious freedom issue — marriage — and spent more time greeting immigrants.

With Independence Hall as his backdrop, where the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were signed, the pope spoke of religious liberty among a very long list of concerns including tyranny, racism, immigration, compassion for the needy and a plea to cheering Latinos in the audience to have pride in their heritage.

Francis did echo one of the central concerns for the bishops, about the right for church-affiliated...