The Department of Health and Human Services announced Jan. 20 that it would not expand a religious exemption for employers who object to a requirement that their insurance plans cover contraception and sterilization as part of a list of “preventative services.”
The policy requires free coverage for sterilization and contraception, including some drugs that can cause abortions.
To qualify for a religious exemption under the policy, religious organizations must employ and serve primarily members of their own faith and must exist for the purpose of teaching religious values.
The Catholic Church has stated that this is an unacceptable infringement on religious liberty and they have stated that they will not comply. Catholic Bishops across the country are speaking out.
Bishop James D. Conley of Denver is calling the Obama administration’s contraception and sterilization mandate “a death knell for religious liberty in the United States.”
“The bell is tolling for religious liberty in America. All of us should listen well,”
Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C. said, “This is all new, in the sense that never before in our history has any government simply issued a decree emptying the religious convictions and conscience protections of all the institutions that serve the poor.”
“All of a sudden, with one stroke of the pen, this administration has indicated that our objections to doing what the government wants us to do, our objections have no place.
“It is an outrageous situation.”
Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles
said that what he finds most disturbing about the recent announcement is the government’s attempt to redefine Catholic charities, hospitals and colleges as non-religious institutions.
The administration is “presuming to have to competence and authority” to define what “religious faith is and how believers should express their faith commitments,” he warned.
“These are powers our government has never before assumed itself to have.”
Most dramatically Bishop David A. Zubik of the Pittsburgh, Pa. Diocese penned a blunt and courageousstatement in which he has stated that Kathleen Sebelius and through her, the Obama administration, have said “To Hell with You” to the Catholic faithful of the United States.
- To Hell with your religious beliefs,
- To Hell with your religious liberty,
- To Hell with your freedom of conscience.
Zubik also stated “This is government by fiat that attacks the rights of everyone – not only Catholics; not only people of all religion. At no other time in memory or history has there been such a governmental intrusion on freedom not only with regard to religion, but even across-the-board with all citizens.”
This administration has once again lurched further left and has picked a fight not only with the Catholics of America but with those non-Catholics the church has ministered to and I think it is a fight they will not win.