(Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York addresses the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore, Marylalnd November 14, 2011. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

Catholic bishops have said  that religious freedom had been whittled away by same-sex marriage, abortion and healthcare legislation, and vowed to ramp up efforts to protect it. At a meeting of 300 bishops gathered for the Conference of Catholic Bishops, the newly appointed committee on religious liberty announced plans to respond to legislation it says comes between citizens and their Catholic beliefs.

That includes Alabama’s recent crackdown on immigration, which prevents undocumented citizens from receiving religious services, said committee member Reverend William Lori, the bishop of Bridgeport, Connecticut, on Monday.

Other examples included a New York town clerk who faces legal action for refusing to administer same-sex marriages after New York state last summer became the most populous state to legalize gay marriage. And, in Illinois, Catholic charities are considered discriminatory for not placing foster children with same-sex couples, Lori said.

“The services of the Catholic Church are more crucial than ever,” Lori said. “But it’s becoming more difficult for us to deliver these services.”