In response to the filings, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, called it “a compelling display of the unity of the Church in defense of religious liberty.”
“We have tried negotiation with the Administration and legislation with the Congress – and we’ll keep at it – but there’s still no fix," he said. “Time is running out, and our valuable ministries and fundamental rights hang in the balance, so we have to resort to the courts now.”
As it stands, Catholic institutions are - at best - in the position of having to cease providing insurance coverage rather than provide for reproductive products that violate their deeply held religious beliefs. Of course, halting insurance coverage would subject them to potential legal consequences. At worst, they may have to stop offering services altogether for the sick and the poor.
As a result, Catholic hospitals, schools, charities, and the many other religious-based organizations that provide help to so many - Catholic and non-Catholic alike - are in danger of closing. This in itself would be disastrous for our country, especially for the vast numbers of people who depend on these services. Just economically speaking, consider how much costs alone would skyrocket if those using Catholic-run health services now had to be absorbed into government-run programs once the Catholic ones close down.
One reason Catholic institutions are in this position is because the contraception mandate gives the government the power to determine which Catholic institutions get exemptions to the mandate. In line with this, the mandate also gives the government the power to determine what constitutes a Catholic institution. As such, an institution cannot be considered truly Catholic, and therefore cannot get an exemption, if it serves people who are not Catholic.
This means, of course, that a private business owner who is Catholic, but employs non-Catholic people, will be forced to offer contraception coverage in company healthcare plans. It also means that any Catholic charity, hospital, school or other service-oriented Catholic institution that helps someone not Catholic is considered a non-Catholic institution. The government does not care how many poor people will be hurt when these Catholic institutions are forced to close their doors rather than go against their faith.
From an administration that claims to be so pro-choice, the choice they're giving Catholics is volatile: the choice to violate their conscience or violate the law. Does anyone think that's a fair choice reflective of a free country?
Still, some ask what's the harm if contraception is forced on religious institutions and employers? Well, beyond the threat of closing down these institutions, religious liberty is a basic, fundamental human right - and it is under attack. It is the first freedom mentioned in our Bill of Rights. If this freedom can be so easily put asunder by a politician's whim, then there is essentially no limit on the government's power to impose its own values at the expense of all religious freedom.
Suddenly, it is no longer just a Catholic issue. It is an issue for all religious people as this mandate sets a precedent that allows the government to insert itself into whatever corners of religion it chooses. It is also an issue for all Americans in general, because, if we don't stand up to the government on this one issue, what's to prevent it from going after any or all of our freedoms? Women will shout for the government to "keep its hands off our bodies", but then want the government to force us to participate in the private decisions they make for their bodies at the expense of our own freedoms. How is that right?
Everyone should stand behind the Catholic Church in these lawsuits because the freedoms of all Americans - not just Catholics - are being threatened by this extremist administration.
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