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Latest News and Information

Dolan: White House is “strangling” Catholic church

CBS News
Posted on: Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

The spat between Catholic leaders and the Obama administration over its contraception policies is heating up again, with one of the nation’s most prominent Catholic leaders charging that the White House is “strangling” the church over the matter.

Timothy Cardinal Dolan told “CBS This Morning” Tuesday that the compromise reached earlier this year is not sufficient because the exemptions made for churches are too restrictive.

“They tell us if you’re really going be considered a church, if you’re going to be really exempt from these demands of the government, well, you have to propagate your Catholic faith and everything you do, you can serve only Catholics and employ only Catholics,” Dolan said.

“We’re like, wait a minute, when did the government get in the business of defining for us the extent of our ministry,” Dolan said.

More than 40 Catholic organizations sued the Obama administration Monday over a government requirement that most employers provide birth control coverage as part of their employee health plans.

The U.S. Health and Human Services Department adopted the rule to expand health care for women. Last year, an advisory panel from the Institute of Medicine, which advises the federal government, recommended including birth control on the list of covered services, partly because it promotes maternal and child health by allowing women to space their pregnancies.

However, faith leaders from across religious traditions protested, saying the mandate violates religious freedom. The original rule includes a religious exemption that allows houses of worship to opt-out of the mandate, but keeps the requirement in place for religiously affiliated charities.

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About Preserve Religious Freedom

This lawsuit is about religious freedom and our ability to serve the public, not about contraception. The Church maintains that the First Amendment protects the Catholic Church's ability to serve the public in accordance with its faith and to operate its religious institutions without government interference. The argument challenges the way the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) defines what is, and is not, a religious institution. By including an exemption at all, the government apparently agrees that, in keeping with decades of practice and precedent, religious institutions should not be compelled to purchase drugs or procedures that violate deeply held religious or moral beliefs.

But, the Administration's HHS mandate defines religious ministry so narrowly that religious schools, hospitals, and social services don't qualify as religious, and must therefore provide these drugs and procedures. This violates the First Amendment's guarantee of religious freedom. It forces religious organizations to sacrifice their beliefs in order to be able to continue their mission of serving the public. Read more about the plaintiffs filing this lawsuit here.

Preserve Religious Freedom
c/o Archdiocese of Washington
P.O. Box 29260
Washington, DC 20017-0260

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