EDITOR’S NOTE: The recently-announced U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) mandate forces employers (including Catholic institutions) who do not currently offer insurance coverage for sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs and contraception to offer this coverage to their employees by Aug. 1, 2013. The U.S. bishops consider this coercive requirement to be a severe violation of the fundamental right to religious freedom and have vowed to fight it until it is removed from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Q: Why is the Catholic Church so strongly opposed to the HHS mandate?
A: The HHS Mandate forces Catholic schools, hospitals, and charities, to pay for abortion-inducing drugs, contraception, and sterilization for their employees. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops stated that for the very first time in our nation’s history, the federal government is forcing individuals and organizations to go out into the marketplace and buy a product that violates their conscience (health care insurance that includes the above coverages).
Archbishop-designate William Lori of Baltimore compared the HHS mandate to a hypothetical situation in which the government requires Jewish kosher delis to purchase and serve bacon, ham and pork ribs. When the Jewish community expresses its outrage at this mandate, it’s met with arguments from the secular media, “But pork is good for you,” “So many Jews eat pork, and those who don’t should just get with the times,” and “The Jews are just trying to impose their beliefs on everyone else.”
We all recognize that the government should respect the religious freedom of Jewish delis to not serve pork to its customers. Bishops, priests, religious, lay faithful, and people of good will are standing together in opposition to the HHS mandate, because the religious liberty of Catholics deserves the same respect.
What action can I take this week? The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is asking all Catholics to pray for the protection of religious liberty in our nation. Please pray daily for this intention.
References to check this week: Visit http://www.usccb.org/
news/2012/12-049.cfm for religious liberty prayer resources.
Questions for this series are answered by Dan Thimons (associate director of the diocesan Office of Pro-Life, Marriage and Family Ministry). Send questions to Dan, c/o Catholic Exponent, at P.O. Box 6787, Youngstown, OH 44501-6787 or email him at