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In court filings, Catholic organizations lament harm caused by HHS mandate

Catholic World News - August 30, 2012

In May, 43 Catholic dioceses and other organizations nationwide filed suit in various federal courts against the HHS mandate. On August 6, the Obama administration filed a brief urging the courts to dismiss the lawsuits, arguing that the organizations have suffered no imminent harm from the mandate, which will not go into effect for religious organizations until August 2013.

In responses filed on August 27, the Catholic organizations discussed the imminent harm caused by the mandate.

“The impact of the mandate will be so severe that the archdiocese and other Catholic organizations are being forced to consider the impossible choices the government has given us,” the Archdiocese of Washington said in a statement.

The archdiocese added that, on the one hand, it could “continue to offer health insurance to our employees and their dependents, except coverage for drugs and procedures that violate our religious beliefs (as we have always been permitted to do under the law until now). If so, the Government could force us to pay a penalty of $100 a day per covered individual (employees and dependents). With about 4,000 people currently enjoying excellent archdiocesan health care coverage, the archdiocese could incur devastating penalties as high as nearly $145 million per year, simply for practicing our faith.”

On the other hand, the archdiocese stated it could “drop health insurance benefits for archdiocesan employees and their dependents altogether, and face a potential fine of more than $4 million per year in fines for the privilege of practicing our faith. This option would leave many employees and their families uninsured or underinsured with little time to adjust and find affordable, quality alternatives.”

The archdiocese continued:

Either scenario is unthinkable, and planning for such action is itself a grave burden, but in either case the mandate’s impact would be so severe that the archdiocese must begin to prepare now. Ignoring the burdens that the mandate has already placed on the archdiocese, the government contends that the archdiocese has not yet suffered any injury sufficient to confer legal standing to challenge the mandate, and that the administration’s expressions of intent to amend the mandate make the case “unripe” for review. But the administration’s promises are not the law – only the mandate is.

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  • Posted by: dagbat - Aug. 30, 2012 1:21 PM ET USA

    It's fine that the Church is slugging it out with the administration in the courts. However the courts are unreliable and there are no guarantees. Besides the courts, the Church should be fighting on the election front. They should be shouting from the pulpits with the hope that the faithful will get the message in time and will vote this president and his administration out of office come November.

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