WASHINGTON–Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Ad HocCommittee for Religious Liberty, has issued an initial response to the apparentdraft interim final regulations that were recently leaked, pertaining to theU.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate requiring healthinsurance coverage of sterilization, contraception, and drugs and devices thatmay cause abortions:
"While they have yet to be formally issuedand will require close study upon publication, the leaked regulations provideencouraging news. If issued, theseregulations would appropriately broaden the existing exemption to a wider rangeof stakeholders with religious or moral objections to the mandated coverage—notjust houses of worship. This not only would eliminate an unwarrantedgovernmental division of our religious community 'between our houses of worshipand our great ministries of service to our neighbors,' but would also lift thegovernment-imposed burden on our ministries 'to violate their own teachingswithin their very own institutions.' United for Religious Freedom (2012).
Relief like this is years overdue andwould be most welcomed. Regulations like these reflect common sense, and whathad been the consistent practice of the federal government for decades toprovide strong conscience protection in the area of health care. We look forward to the final version of theregulations with hope that they will remain strong. At that time, we will analyze thoseregulations more carefully and comment on them more formally. Throughout,our goal will remain to protect both the conscience of individuals and ourmission of sharing the Gospel and serving the poor and vulnerable through ourministries."
ThisHHS mandate was first announced in 2011, triggering dozens of lawsuits,including by the Little Sisters of the Poor.
Keywords:United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop William E. Lori,religious freedom, religious liberty, U.S. Department of Health and HumanServices, HHS mandate, religious exemption, federal government, executivebranch.
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