Two of the top Catholic bishops in the United States have made it clear the nation’s Catholic bishops will not give up trying to stop the Obama HHS mandate or carve out sufficient conscience exemptions.
With Catholic leaders meeting in Baltimore this week, New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said Catholic officials are open to a conscience exemption. Otherwise, they will keep fighting the mandate, which forces religious groups — Catholic or otherwise — to pay for birth control and drugs that may cause early-term abortions.
“The only thing we’re certainly not prepared to do is give in. We’re not violating our consciences,” Dolan told reporters, according to AP. “I would say no door is closed except for the door to capitulation.”
Dolan would not say if Catholics groups, colleges, and hospitals would act in civil disobedience towards the mandate, as some Catholic bishops have suggested.
“It’s still not doomsday yet,” he said, referring to the August implementation date next year for the mandates onerous provisions.
Meanwhile, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, who chairs the ad hoc committee on religious liberty, re-upped the Catholic Church’s commitment to defending religious liberty.
“We are prayerfully resolute in pursuing the project of defending and fostering religious liberty, in the short and mid-term and in the long-term,” he said. Protecting religious freedom, “requires long-term foundational and formational work.”
Lori observed that the “political landscape is the same, but so also is our resolve to eliminate the HHS mandate and most especially the four-part definition that it contains of what constitutes religious activity.”
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He noted that lawsuits and legislative efforts to counteract the mandate continue, and the bishops’ conference is also monitoring and participating in the ongoing rule-making process regarding the treatment of religious groups under the mandate.
He encouraged his fellow bishops to renew their resolve to see themselves as “not as part of a fleeting effort, but rather as part of a movement to defend, to promote and to foster life, liberty and marriage.”
The top pro-life lobbyist for the Catholic bishops recently talked about efforts in Congress to put pro-life conscience protections in place.