WASHINGTON–Today's decision to expand the HHS mandate exemption isa "return to common sense, long-standing federal practice, and peacefulcoexistence between church and state," according to the United StatesConference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishopof Galveston-Houston and President of the USCCB, and Archbishop William E. Loriof Baltimore, Chairman of the USCCB's Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, arehailing the Trump Administration's announcement to provide a broad religious andmoral exemption from the mandate requiring health insurance coverage ofsterilization, contraception, and drugs and devices that may causeabortions.
Cardinal DiNardo and Archbishop Lori offered the followingjoint statement in response:
"The Administration's decision to provide a broad religiousand moral exemption to the HHS mandate recognizes that the full range offaith-based and mission-driven organizations, as well as the people who runthem, have deeply held religious and moral beliefs that the law mustrespect. Such an exemption is noinnovation, but instead a return to common sense, long-standing federalpractice, and peaceful coexistence between church and state. It corrects an anomalous failure by federalregulators that should never have occurred and should never be repeated.
"These regulations are good news for the Little Sisters ofthe Poor and others who are challenging the HHS mandate in court. We urge the government to take the nextlogical step and promptly resolve the litigation that the Supreme Court has urgedthe parties to settle.
"The regulations are also good news for all Americans. A government mandate that coerces people tomake an impossible choice between obeying their consciences and obeying thecall to serve the poor is harmful not only to Catholics but to the common good. Religious freedom is a fundamental right forall, so when it is threatened for some, it is threatened for all. We welcome the news that this particularthreat to religious freedom has been lifted, and with the encouragement of PopeFrancis, we will remain 'vigilant, precisely as good citizens, to preserve anddefend that freedom from everything that would threaten or compromise it.'"
Keywords: Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, ArchbishopWilliam Lori, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, U.S. Department ofHealth and Human Services, HHS mandate, Little Sisters of the Poor,contraceptives, religious liberty, religious freedom
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