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We should be free to preach the gospel, we should be free to help the poor in Christ's name, we should be free to heal the sick in Christ's name, we should be free to educate in Christ's name, and now we are being told for the first time that the government has the right to tell us that our ministries are now public services without religious reference… It's chilling and difficult for me to live with that my own government is now saying that what you thought you could do, namely exercise your religion freely as you define it, now depends upon how we define what you do. This isn't just the bishops, we have Catholic University, Notre Dame University, and many others who are saying "You are robbing of us of our identity as Catholics."
– Francis Cardinal George, Archdiocese of Chicago
"We are concerned as pastors with the freedom of the Church as a
whole—not just for the full range of its institutional forms, but also for the
faithful in their daily lives—to carry out the mission and ministry of Jesus
~ Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, President, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a final rule (June 28, 2013) on its mandate requiring employee health insurance for contraceptives, including abortion-causing drugs, and female sterilization. The final does not appear to eliminate "the need to continue defending our rights in Congress and the courts," said Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York and President of the USCCB.
Cardinal Dolan listed three areas of concern based on the March 2012 statement of the Administrative Committee, United for Religious Freedom: (1) the narrow definition of "religious employers" that are exempted, (2) the "accommodation" of religious ministries excluded from that definition, and (3) the treatment of businesses run by people who seek to operate their companies according to religious principles. Based on the March 2012 statement, the final rule shows that the first and third concerns still have not been addressed. Additionally, the second area of concern appears mostly the same, except for three relatively small changes that will require more time and analysis to evaluate.
In short, while the administration has delayed implementation of the HHS mandate for certain non-profit entities, moving the enforcement from August 1, 2013 to January 1, 2014, we must nonetheless continue to pray and take action on the religious liberty threats faced by the HHS mandate. We will continue to seek relief from the courts and from Congress for those who object because of religious or moral convictions.
Check out the action alert and contact Congress to include conscience provisions!
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