U.S. Conf. Catholic Bishops
July 1, 2015
(orig. pub. 6/24/15) The June 18 Metro article "House GOP targets D.C.'s reproductive-bias law" failed to note the law's unprecedented breadth, which led then-D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray (D) and his general counsel to warn last year of legal and constitutional defects. The law protects employees who make any decision relating to "the planned or intended initiation or termination of a pregnancy." The law protects employees who make any decision relating to "the planned or intended initiation or termination of a pregnancy." So pro-life organizations must employ women who plan to have abortions, as well as men who perform abortions or tell colleagues they will encourage women to have them.
Catholic and Evangelical Humanitarian Agencies Voice Concern Over Impact of Rule Regarding Unaccompanied Children
February 23, 2015
An interim final rule published by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services risks harmful effects on unaccompanied children resettled by the United States, according to comments filed by Catholic and Evangelical organizations and relief agencies. The rule falls short of having adequate protections for those organizations with religious or moral objections to certain requirements under the rule, including providing minors and victims of sexual abuse access to "emergency contraception" and access "to all lawful pregnancy-related medical services," which the comments indicated "apparently includes abortion."
November 12, 2014
More than 100 legal cases against the HHS mandate are currently open, the archbishop said. "That's keeping us all pretty busy," he admitted. An update to the mandate was recently released and is being studied by the bishops' religious freedom committee. In addition, Archbishop William E. Lori noted the growing threat to religious liberty being posed by "laws redefining marriage." Such laws have led to businesses and religious entities being threatened with fines or closure for seeking to maintain their longstanding beliefs on marriage. Despite the ongoing challenges in the realm of religious freedom, the archbishop called for hope.
July 22, 2014
The Court’s 5-to-4 decision in favor of the religious freedom of these familyowned companies was immediately greeted by a hailstorm of negative, misleading, and ignorant commentary by those who are politically committed to mandatory contraceptive coverage for all Americans. However, what the court did, in fact, was follow its own precedents and faithfully apply a law passed almost unanimously by the people’s elected representatives. That law is the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which was approved by the 103rd Congress almost unanimously in 1993 and signed into law by President Bill Clinton. RFRA says that a federal policy cannot “substantially burden” a person’s religious freedom unless it furthers a “compelling governmental interest” in the way that is “least restrictive” of that freedom.
July 21, 2014
The bishop-Chairmen of two USCCB Committees responded with great concern to President Obama's July 21 executive order to prohibit federal government contractors from what the Administration deems "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" discrimination and to forbid "gender identity" discrimination in the employment of federal employees. The problems the bishops identify in the order relate both to the flaws in its core prohibitions, and to its lack of religious freedom protection.
July 15, 2014
“We are writing to state our strong opposition to the misnamed ‘Protect Women’s Health From Corporate Interference Act of 2014’ (S. 2578),” wrote Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore and Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston in a letter to all U.S. senators on Monday. "In short, the bill does not befit a nation committed to religious liberty. Indeed, if it were to pass, it would call that commitment into question," the bishops wrote. The proposed legislation would force employers with group health plans to cover any "specific health care item" mandated by federal law or regulations despite religious liberty protections.
June 25, 2014
"Were you lying then, or are you lying now?" So asks an outraged defense lawyer in the great courtroom drama Witness for the Prosecution, when his star murder witness reverses her testimony. In light of recent events, some may want to ask the same question of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).
June 24, 2014
A group of U.S. Catholic bishops issued a statement noting "great concern" over "the reported intention of the President of the United States to issue an executive order forbidding what the Administration considers ‘discrimination' based on ‘sexual orientation' and ‘gender identity.' If signed into action, the executive order could require organizations with federal contracts to treat same-sex partnerships as marriages, unless wide religious freedom exemptions are granted.
June 5, 2014
President of the Catholic Benefits Association Baltimore Archbishop William Lori, said the group was formed to support Catholic employers in providing quality, cost-competitive and morally compliant health care benefits for their employees. "Yesterday's decision makes this a reality," Lori said. The owners of the Hobby Lobby won a favorable ruling in a similar lawsuit in the same federal court and at the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The chain of arts-and-crafts stores does not want to provide insurance coverage for certain forms of contraception that it finds objectionable on religious grounds.
November 14, 2013
They identified three ongoing concerns surrounding the mandate: a reduction of religious freedom to mere freedom of worship; the compulsion of Catholic ministries to participate in the providing of abortifacients, sterilization, and contraception; and the compulsion of Catholics owning for-profit businesses to act against Catholic teaching. Kim Daniels, spokesperson for the president of the bishops’ conference, said the statement shows that the bishops remain united and are not letting up on their efforts to secure religious freedom.
November 5, 2013
A bill to prohibit workplace discrimination against homosexual and transgender persons poses serious threats to religious freedom and undermines the biological basis of gender, say its critics as it heads to a crucial Senate vote. “All Americans should oppose unjust discrimination, but ENDA does not advance that goal. In fact, it moves us in the wrong direction,” said scholar and author Ryan T. Anderson. The bishops explained that as it is currently written, the proposed law lacks an exception for a "bona fide occupational qualification" for "those cases where it is neither unjust nor inappropriate to consider an applicant's sexual inclinations."
September 11, 2013
The Department of Health and Human Services June 28 issued final rules for implementing the mandate, which is part of the Affordable Care Act. The USCCB maintains that the rules still conflict with church teaching. Cardinal Dolan said the conference continues to evaluate what next steps it will take in response.
July 3, 2013
Leaders of religious groups representing more than 100 million Americans said Tuesday that religious institutions and business owners should not be forced to provide contraceptive coverage that violates their conscience. Rev. Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptists' public policy arm, said Tuesday that the administration's finalized rule on the mandate amounted to "word games and accounting tricks," with no exemptions for religious business owners.
July 3, 2013
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' final rule on its mandate that requires employee health insurance for contraceptives, including abortion-causing drugs, and female sterilization does not appear, on first analysis, to eliminate "the need to continue defending our rights in Congress and the courts," Cardinal Timothy Dolan ofNew York said July 3.
June 28, 2013
According to the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life, 75% of the world's population lives in countries with high governmental or societal restrictions on religion. Christians face harassment in the largest number of countries, followed by Muslims and Jews. This is not only terrible for believers, it's unhealthy for societies. Brian Grim at the Pew Forum notes that "restriction of religious freedom correlates with diminished wellbeing and violent social conflict."
June 21, 2013
Religiously affiliated schools, hospitals, and social-service ministries that continue to live by their beliefs about marriage could face anti-discrimination lawsuits, and their access to government contracts and benefits could be at risk. It's not far-fetched to think that such groups may face the loss of tax-exempt status; the California Senate has passed a bill that would take away the Boy Scouts' tax-exempt status in reaction to what it sees as the Scouts' discriminatory membership policy.
June 21, 2013
This weekend marks the beginning of the second Fortnight for Freedom, an ecumenical celebration of freedom established last year by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. This year's events begin tonight with an opening Mass in Baltimore and a vigil for freedom Saturday evening in front of the Capitol in Washington, D.C. Jacqueline Halbig of The Catholic Association has been working with the Knights of Columbus organizing a prayer vigil and Saturday night's rally. She talks a bit about it with National Review Online.
April 30, 2013
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has hired religious liberty attorney and mother of six Kim Daniels as spokesperson for conference president Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan. The bishops' conference said April 29 that it "welcomes" Daniels, who brings with her experience as director of Catholic Voices USA, a lay Catholic organization that "works to bring the positive message of the Church across a broad range of issues to the public square."
April 21, 2013
Tens of thousands of citizens, including Catholic bishops, administrators of universities, hospitals and social agencies, private business owners, constitutional scholars and ordinary laypeople, flooded the online comments box. Some statements offered legal analyses that explained why the mandate violates the Free Exercise Clause of the Constitution and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Pro-life business owners affirmed their commitment to the sanctity of human life. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in a March 20 statement filed by Anthony Picarello and Michael Moses rejected the narrow religious exemption that offers no protection for Catholic "organizations that contribute most visibly to the common good through the provision of health, educational and social services."
USCCB Says Administration Mandate Violates First Amendment Freedoms Of Religious Organizations And Others
March 20, 2013
No exemption or accommodation is available at all for the vast majority of individual or institutional stakeholders with religious or moral objections to contraceptive coverage. Virtually all Americans who enroll in a health plan will ultimately be required to have contraceptive coverage for themselves and their dependents, whether they want it or not.
February 21, 2013
Assuming we don't want to focus on compromising the autonomy and dignity of women to achieve a sterile population, what approaches with wide popular support could reduce abortion, even as it remains legal under the Supreme Court's decisions?
July 29, 2012
Richard Doerflinger, the chief lobbyist on life issues for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, described the House Subcommittee appropriations bill as a "breakthrough" because the language from the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act is included right in the spending bill and not in an amendment. "The real challenge will be for the Senate to accept it." he said. "One way or the other, there will be a vote."
July 13, 2012
Christian Medical Association CEO Dr. David Stevens interviews Richard Doerflinger of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on the HHS mandate in the Affordable Care Act, conscience rights and religious liberty.
June 24, 2012
In May 2011, the federal Department of Health and Human Services decided its human trafficking grant-making process would prioritize those who would provide “family planning services and the full range of legally permissible gynecological and obstetric care.” Translation: Unless you offer abortion and contraception, you’re not welcome.
May 23, 2012
In January, the Obama administration hit Catholic employers with arguably the most religiously-oppressive government directive in modern American history: Provide free abortion drugs and birth control pills in your health insurance plans, in flagrant violation of your religious beliefs, or face legal punishment. This week the bishops of the Catholic Church hit back. In one of the largest legal actions to defend religious liberty in U.S. history, Catholic organizations filed a dozen lawsuits across the country claiming the Obama Health and Human Services Department rule violates the right to religious freedom set forth in the U.S. Constitution.
May 21, 2012
NEW YORK (AP) - Dozens of Roman Catholic dioceses, schools and other institutions sued the Obama administration Monday over a government mandate requiring most employers to provide birth control coverage as part of their employee health plans.
May 20, 2012
Various initiatives are planned throughout the country in response to the U.S. bishops' call for a "Fortnight for Freedom" June 21-July 4 to encourage prayer, education and public action about religious freedom. The initiative was created in response to several moves by the Obama administration that are threatening the Church's religious freedom.
April 15, 2012
During his final illness Sen. Ted Kennedy wrote a letter to Pope Benedict XVI, stating, "I believe in a conscience protection for Catholics in the health field, and I'll continue to advocate for it as my colleagues in the Senate and I work to develop an overall national health policy that guarantees health care for everyone."
March 7, 2012
The Washington Times persists in reporting that the Obama administration has "agreed to exempt religion-affiliated universities, charities and hospitals" from its contraceptive coverage mandate ("Limbaugh apology garners bipartisan approval," Web, Sunday). However, this is not the case. On Feb. 10, the administration's controversial mandate and its incredibly narrow religious exemption were finalized "without change."