Remember when then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was pushing the 2,471-page Obamacare bill  through the congress, saying, “We have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it ”? Well, now that they have found out what’s in it, the nation’s Roman Catholics are not at all pleased. This week, the Most Reverend Joseph E. Kurtz, D.D., Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Louisville, sent a letter out  to the attention of the area’s more than 200,000 Catholics, alerting them to “…an alarming and serious matter that negatively impacts the Church in the United States and that strikes at the fundamental right to religious liberty for all citizens of any faith.”
It seems that the Obama administration’s Cabinet for Health and Human Services has issued a rule—pursuant to the Obamacare law—forcing nearly all private health plans to include coverage for all FDA-approved prescription contraceptive drugs and devices, as well as surgical sterilization. These are listed among "preventive services for women" that all health plans will have to cover without co-pays or other cost-sharing; regardless of whether the insurer, the employer or other plan sponsor, or even the woman herself objects to such coverage. The new rule will require church-affiliated employers to offer health coverage that includes sterilization, contraception and so called "morning after" contraceptives that the Catholic Church says can induce abortion.
Calling the new regulations a "severe assault on religious liberty," Archbishop Kurtz urged local Catholics to contact federal lawmakers and push for a reversal of the mandate. "We cannot - we will not - comply with this unjust law," Kurtz said, "People of faith cannot be made second class citizens."
Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, sharply criticized the decision by the Obama administration in which it "ordered almost every employer and insurer in the country to provide sterilization and contraceptives, including some abortion-inducing drugs, in their health plans....Never before has the federal government forced individuals and organizations to go out into the marketplace and buy a product that violates their conscience. This shouldn't happen in a land where free exercise of religion ranks first in the Bill of Rights."
Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, president of the USCCB, sharply criticized the decision by the Obama administration:
In her take on the imbroglio, “First, they came for the Catholics ,” commentator Michelle Malkin observes that NARAL, NOW, Ms. Magazine, and the Feminist Majority Foundation, “…all cheered the administration’s abuse of the Obamacare law to ram abortion down pro-life medical professionals’ throats.” She quotes feminist Eleanor Smeal as gloating: “At last,” she exulted, the Left’s goal of “no-cost birth control” for all had been achieved. And she quotes leftist Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne as writing that Obama “botched” the controversy and “threw his progressive Catholic allies under the bus” by refusing to “balance the competing liberty interests here.”
Malkin accuses the ACLU and the feminists of joining with President Obama to threaten and sabotage the First Amendment rights of religious-based health care entities. “The agenda is not increased ‘access’ to health care services,” she suggests. “The ultimate goal is to shut down health care providers – Catholic health care institutions employ about 540,000 full-time workers and 240,000 part-time workers – whose religious views cannot be tolerated by secular zealots and radical social engineers.”
On January 20, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius responded to the Catholic outrage by backing off a bit from the new regulation. She announced that nonprofit groups that do not provide contraceptive coverage because of their religious beliefs will be an additional year “to adapt to this new rule.”
Rev. Kurtz was appointed Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Louisville on June 12, 2007, by Pope Benedict XVI. The Archdiocese of Louisville consists of 24 counties in central Kentucky, with 111 parishes and missions. The Archdiocese runs 48 K-12 schools, serving 20,745 students, and serves more than 265,000 persons in Catholic hospitals, home health centers, homes for the aged, specialized homes and centers for social services.
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
May God bless you! I write to you about an alarming and serious matter that negatively impacts the Church in the United States and that strikes at the fundamental right to religious liberty for all citizens of any faith.
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.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced recently that almost all employers, including Catholic employers, will be forced to offer their employees’ health coverage that includes sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs, and contraception. Almost all health insurers will be forced to include those “services” in the health policies they write. And almost all individuals will be forced to buy that coverage as a part of their policies.
In so ruling, the Administration has cast aside 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. And as a result, unless the rule is overturned, some Catholic employers will be compelled either to violate their consciences or to drop health coverage for their employees (and suffer the penalties for doing so). The Administration’s sole concession was to give these institutions one year to comply.
We cannot—we will not—comply with this unjust law. People of faith cannot be made second class citizens. Our parents and grandparents did not come to these shores to help build America’s cities and towns, its infrastructure and institutions, its enterprise and culture, only to have their posterity stripped of their God-given rights. In generations past, the Church has always been able to count on the faithful to stand up and protect her sacred rights and duties. I hope and trust she can count on this generation of Catholics to do the same. Our children and grandchildren deserve nothing less.
We are already joined by our brothers and sisters of all faiths and many others of good will in this important effort to regain our religious freedom. I ask of you two things. First, as a community of faith we should join together in prayer and fasting that wisdom and justice will prevail, and religious liberty will be restored. Without God, we can do nothing; with God, nothing is impossible. Second, I would also recommend visiting www.usccb.org/conscience , to learn more about this severe assault on religious liberty and how to contact Congress in support of legislation that would reverse the Administration’s decision.
Thank you for your attention to this vital issue. You and your families are in my prayers.
Sincerely yours in our Lord,
Most Reverend Joseph E. Kurtz, D.D. Archbishop of Louisville
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