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US bishops remain firmly committed to fight against HHS mandate: Cardinal Dolan

Catholic World News - September 18, 2013

The US Catholic bishops remain firmly committed to the fight against the contraceptive mandate in the Obama administration’s health-care program, Cardinal Timothy Dolan on New York has announced.

Following a meeting of the administrative board of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Cardinal Dolan, the president of the USCCB, reported to all of the American bishops that the administrative board was “unanimous in their resolve to continue our struggle against the HHS mandate.”

“We are united in our resolve to continue to defend our right to live by our faith, and our duty to serve the poor, heal the sick, keep our apostolates strong and faithful, and insure our people,” the cardinal wrote.

Cardinal Dolan repeated his statement that “this is a fight that we didn't ask for, and would rather not be in, but it’s certainly one that we won’t run from.”

The cardinal said that the US bishops’ conference would continue to pursue all available “avenues of response that would both preserve our strong unity and protect our consciences.” Cardinal Dolan did not disclose what options the bishops might consider when the HHS mandate takes full effect, but promised to provide an update on the possible responses at the November meeting of the USCCB.

Cardinal Dolan reiterated that the American bishops have three major complaints with the HHS mandate: complaints that were not addressed by the “accommodation” offered by the Obama administration in June. Those complaints, he said, are: the narrow definition of what constitutes a “religious employer,” which excludes many church-based institutions such as hospitals and schools; the failure to provide adequate protection the religious principles of those institutions; and the lack of any “conscience clause” to protect secular employers who have moral objections to the contraceptive mandate.

In his letter to his fellow bishops, which was made public by the USCCB on September 18, Cardinal Dolan said that the members of the administrative committee “took the occasion to vent” at their meeting last week about the imposition of the HHS mandate. He observed that Catholic institutions have performed enormous services for the needy in America, and continue to provide those services today. “Yet, instead of spending our time, energy, and treasure on increasing access to health care, as we have done for many decades, we’re now forced to spend those resources on determining how to respond to recently enacted government regulations that restrict and burden our religious freedom,” he said.

The cardinal said that some Americans may think that the Catholic bishops have relaxed their opposition to the HHS mandate. That perception, he said, may have been encouraged by the support for the “accommodation” from the Catholic Health Association—a stance that he characterized as “untimely and unhelpful.”

In any case, Cardinal Dolan said: “If there's any perception that our dedication to this fight is flagging, that’s dead wrong.”

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Show 2 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: John J Plick - Oct. 12, 2013 2:52 PM ET USA

    There is a "cost" to their "socialized medicine...," And now they are finding out what that cost is.

  • Posted by: Minnesota Mary - Sep. 18, 2013 11:23 PM ET USA

    Isn't it interesting that the bishops folded when it came to doing adoptions through Catholic Charities? There was no fight to keep doing adoptions in accord to Catholic teaching on homosexuality. Evidently they didn't see those services as all that important.

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