U.S. Bishops Urge Congress: Use CR To Stop Obamacare’s Attack On Religious Freedom
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Sep 30, 2013 Comments Off Jack Flash

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(CNSNews.com)The Catholic bishops of the United States have sent a last-ditch letter to members of the House and Senate asking them to protect the religious liberty of American Catholics, which is under attack by the Obama administration.

Specifically, the bishops are asking Congress to use the continuing resolution that must be enacted to keep the federal government funded after midnight on Monday–or otherwise use the bill that will be needed by mid-October to increase the legal limit on the federal debt–to prohibit the effects of an Obamacare regulation that force Catholics to act against their faith.

Under this regulation, many Catholics will quite literally be denied the right to live according to their faith so long as they live in the United States.

There is no middle ground on the issue the bishops have raised. Either the anti-religious effects of the Obamacare regulation will be stopped, and the federal government will continue to permit American Catholics to live according to their faith, or Congress will permit the regulation to take full effect and the administration will use it to compel American Catholics to act against their faith–even on a matter that involves the taking of innocent human life.

The regulation in question requires that almost all health-care plans in the United States cover sterilizations, artificial contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs. The Catholic Church teaches that all three of these things violate the natural law, are intrinsically immoral, and that Catholics cannot be involved in them.

Back on March 8, Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, who is chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Pro-Life Activities, sent a letter to all members of the House of Representatives–including House Speaker John Boehner, who is Catholic–asking them to include H.R. 940 in “must-pass” legislation. H.R. 940 is a bill that would amend the Obamacare law to say that no individual worker, employer, or health insurance provider can be required to buy or provide coverage for a health-care service that they object to on religious or moral grounds.

Shortly after Cardinal O’Malley sent that letter, the House approved the final version of the continuing resolution that has funded the government from then until Monday night at midnight. That CR did not heed the request of the Catholic bishops and did not include H.R. 940.

On multiple occasions since then, CNSNews.com has asked Michael Steel, House Speaker Boehner’s spokesman, whether Boehner intended to follow through on the bishops’ requests and attach H.R. 940 either to the CR under consideration now or the bill that will be needed to increase the legal limit on the federal debt. Steel has never directly answered this question.

The government-run Obamacare exchanges that will be the only place under Obamacare where individuals will be allowed to buy a health-insurance plan using a government subsidy are set to open Tuesday. All of the insurance plans sold on these exchanges will be required to follow the regulation requiring them to cover sterilizations, artificial contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs. Thus, an American Catholic will not be able to purchase a health-insurance plan on the exchanges without violating the teachings of his faith.

Similarly, Catholics who own for-profit businesses, and who buy health insurance for their employees, are also now subject to the regulation. They cannot buy health insurance for their workers under the Obamacare regulation without violating the moral teachings of their faith.

On Thursday, Cardinal O’Malley sent another letter to members of Congress urging them to incorporate the policy of H.R. 940 into the CR they are considering now, or attach it to the debt limit bill they will need to soon take up. O’Malley was joined in sending the letter by Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, who serves as chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty.

“We are writing once again, as chairmen of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities and Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, an an increasingly grave concern to our Church and many others: Preserving religious freedom and the right of conscience for all who take part in our health care system,” Cardinal O’Malley and Archbishop Lori told members of Congress.

“We have already urged you to enact the Health Care Conscience Rights Act (H.R. 940/S. 1204),” Cardinal O’Malley and Archbishop Lori wrote. “As Congress considers the Continuing Resolution and debt ceiling bill in the days to come, we reaffirm the vital importance of incorporating the policy of this bill into such ‘must-pass’ legislation.”

The bishops told the members of Congress that Catholic “schools, social services, hospitals and assisted living facilities … should not be told by government to abandon or compromise those [religious] convictions in order to continue serving their own employees or the neediest Americans.

“Nor should individual Catholics or others be told they cannot legally purchase or provide health coverage unless they violate their conscience.”

The bishops specifically pointed to the Obamacare regulation as a “particular threat” to this freedom of conscience.

“A particular threat is the Administration’s mandate for covering contraception, sterilization and related education and counseling as ‘preventive services’ for enrollees and their minor daughters,” the bishops told the House members. “The mandate includes drugs and devices that can act against human life after fertilization, implicating our moral teachings on abortion as well as contraception. The more than six dozen lawsuits filed against this mandate by hundreds of for-profit and nonprofit organizations led by people of faith highlight the need to reassert Americans’ right to live and serve in accord with their deepest convictions about the sanctity of life.

“Business owners are subject to the mandate now,” said the bishops. “Their suits are pending but may not be resolved in the courts for many months.”

“Those who help provide health care, and those who need such care for themselves and their families, should not be forced to choose between preserving their religious and moral integrity and participating in our health care system,” the bishops told the members of Congress. “Please act on this matter without delay.”

The Catholic bishops have been speaking out about this aspect of Obamacare’s implementation ever since the administration first finalized the sterilization-contraception-abortifacient regulation in early 2012.

Archbishop Timothy Broglio, who leads the Roman Catholic Archdiocese for the Military Services, wrote a letter on Jan. 26, 2012 that he asked Catholic chaplains to read to all Catholics in the U.S. military attending mass at military facilities that Sunday.

“It is imperative that I call to your attention an alarming and serious matter that negatively impacts the Church in the United States directly, and that strikes at the fundamental right to religious liberty for all citizens of any faith,” Broglio wrote. “The federal government, which claims to be ‘of, by, and for the people,’ has just dealt a heavy blow to almost a quarter of those people—the Catholic population—and to the millions more who are served by the Catholic faithful. It is a blow to a freedom that you have fought to defend and for which you have seen your buddies fall in battle.”

“We cannot—we will not—comply with this unjust law,” Broglio told the troops. “People of faith cannot be made second-class citizens.”

In a column published on Feb. 12, 2012, Cardinal Frances George of Chicago reiterated the view of Broglio and other American Catholic bishops that the Obamacare regulation was an “unjust law” that Catholics could not obey.

“In so ruling, the administration has seemingly ignored the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, denying to Catholics our nation’s first and most fundamental freedom, that of religious liberty,” wrote Cardinal George. “As a result, unless the rule is overturned, we Catholics must be prepared either to violate our consciences, or to drop health coverage for our employees (and suffer the penalties for doing so).”

“We cannot–we will not–comply with this unjust law,” said George.

In June 2012, all of the Catholic bishops of the United States unanimously approved a statement declaring the Obamacare regulation an “unjust and illegal mandate” and a “violation of personal civil rights.”

In a declaration that has gone mostly unreported in the establishment media, every single one of the Catholic bishops of this nation joined in stating that the Obamacare regulation forced individuals of faith to act against their conscience, whether they were employers, employees or people involved in issuing insurance policies.

“The HHS mandate creates still a third class, those with no conscience protection at all: individuals who, in their daily lives, strive constantly to act in accordance with their faith and moral values,” said the unanimous Catholic bishops. “They, too, face a government mandate to aid in providing ‘services’ contrary to those values–whether in their sponsoring of, and payment for, insurance as employers; their payment of insurance premiums as employees; or as insurers themselves–without even the semblance of an exemption.” Keep reading