Bishop: Catholic Church Will Defy Obama Abortion-HHS Mandate
by Steven Ertelt, Andrew Bair | Lincoln, NE | LifeNews.com | 11/12/12 2:05 PM
The new Catholic bishop in Lincoln, Nebraska says the Catholic Church will openly defy the Obama-HHS mandate that compels religious groups and businesses to pay for drugs that may cause abortions.
From the story:
“The Catholic Church is not going to back down,” said Denver Auxiliary Bishop James Conley, who will start as the new bishop of the Lincoln Diocese on Nov. 20. “We are never going to compromise our principles. We will defy it and face the consequences.”
Roman Catholic officials in Omaha and Des Moines expressed similar sentiments this week over a plan by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services requiring all employers to provide their employees contraception coverage without copays.
The so-called HHS mandate for religious organizations, currently the subject of dozens of legal challenges nationally, is set to take effect next August.
“Litigation, legislation and worst-case scenario would be the decision whether to comply or refuse to embrace something that’s against the teaching of the church,” said Deacon Tim McNeil, chancellor of the Omaha Archdiocese.
Catholic bishops regard the mandate as a violation of religious freedom, compelling them to provide services they morally oppose. The church has always seen its charitable work, hospitals and schools as part of its broader ministry, said Bishop Richard Pates of the Diocese of Des Moines.
“It’s just as much a part of our faith as saying prayers inside of church,” he said.
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Refusal to provide the coverage could prompt civil fines of up to $100 per day for each uncovered employee. While the church leaders said they hope a resolution can be reached, such fines would leave no other option but to close the affected institutions.
Earlier this year, the nation’s Catholic bishops made it appear they may openly defy the mandate in a national act of civil disobedience. In June, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) distributed bulletin inserts nationwide, which reference Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his call for civil disobedience in response to unjust laws.
The USCCB bulletin insert quoted the “Letter from Birmingham Jail” in which Dr. King writes, “I would agree with Saint Augustine that ‘An unjust law is no law at all.’… A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law.”
The Catholic bishops also note in the document, “Some unjust laws impose such injustices on individuals and organizations that disobeying the laws may be justified. Every effort must be made to repeal them. When fundamental human goods, such as the right of conscience, are at stake, we may need to witness to the truth by resisting the law and incurring its penalties.”
The USCCB organized a two-week campaign called the Fortnight for Freedom to raise awareness about the threats to rights of conscience posed by the HHS mandate.
The USCCB released a documententitled “Our First, Most Cherished Liberty” in which the bishops emphasized they would not back down from their opposition the HHS Mandate.
The bishops said, “It is a sobering thing to contemplate our government enacting an unjust law. An unjust law cannot be obeyed. In the face of an unjust law, an accommodation is not to be sought, especially by resorting to equivocal words and deceptive practices. If we face today the prospect of unjust laws, then Catholics in America, in solidarity with our fellow citizens, must have the courage not to obey them. No American desires this. No Catholic welcomes it. But if it should fall upon us, we must discharge it as a duty of citizenship and an obligation of faith.”