CNS News reported today:
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, sent a letter on Friday to all the Catholic bishops of the United States reasserting the conviction of the Catholic Church that it will not yield to the Obama administration’s command—issued in the form of a Health and Human Services regulation implementing the president’s health-care plan–that Catholics and Catholic institutions must violate the teachings of their faith by purchasing and providing health insurance plans that pay for sterilizations, contraceptives and abortifacients.
Despite all the misdirections we have heard this week about Rush Limbaugh’s comments and contraception, this is the issue. Do Catholics, other people of faith, and various people with moral convictions have the right to live out their beliefs?
The Cardinal’s letter stated:
“We have made it clear in no uncertain terms to the government that we are not at peace with its invasive attempt to curtail the religious freedom we cherish as Catholics and Americans,” Cardinal Dolan wrote his brother bishops.
“We did not ask for this fight, but we will not run from it,” he said.
“Since January 20, when the final, restrictive HHS Rule was first announced,” Cardinal Dolan wrote, “we have become certain of two things: religious freedom is under attack, and we will not cease our struggle to protect it.”
In the vernacular of the day, “He gets it!”
The article further reports:
Cardinal Dolan then said that the so-called “concession” President Obama had offered in February—that he would order insurance companies working with Catholic institutions to provide sterilizations, contraceptives and abortifacients to the workers at those institutions for free—did not solve the problem.
“For one, there was not even a nod to the deeper concerns about trespassing upon religious freedom, or of modifying the HHS’ attempt to define the how and who of our ministry,” wrote the cardinal.
“Two, since a big part of our ministries are ‘self-insured,’ we still ask how this protects us,” he wrote. “We’ll still have to pay and, in addition to that, we’ll still have to maintain in our policies practices which our Church has consistently taught are grave wrongs in which we cannot participate.
“And what about forcing individual believers to pay for what violates their religious freedom and conscience?” he wrote. “We can’t abandon the hard working person of faith who has a right to religious freedom.
“And three,” he said, “there was still no resolution about the handcuffs placed upon renowned Catholic charitable agencies, both national and international, and their exclusion from contracts just because they will not refer victims of human trafficking, immigrants and refugees, and the hungry of the world, for abortions, sterilization, or contraception.”
This is a battle for religious freedom, and all churches need to take part. Otherwise, none of us will be free to live out our faith in the public square.