Important Update: Archdiocese of Washington Files Petition for Rehearing En Banc Read More.
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About Us

The Archdiocese of Washington provides pastoral care and spiritual guidance for individuals throughout the D.C. area through its parishes, schools, and multiple charitable programs. The Archdiocese of Washington encompasses 139 parishes serving over 620,000 Catholics in Washington, D.C., and in Maryland’s Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s, and St. Mary’s counties. Originally part of the Archdiocese of Baltimore—the oldest diocese in the United States—Washington, D.C. and its five neighboring Maryland counties were named a separate archdiocese by Pope Pius XII in 1939. The parishes and fifty-three schools are part of the Archdiocese. The charitable work of the Archdiocese is also performed through a number of separate, affiliated corporations, including (among others) the Consortium of Catholic Academies, Archbishop Carroll High School, and Catholic Charities. The Archdiocese has been led since 2006 by Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl, formerly the Bishop of Pittsburgh. Cardinal Wuerl is assisted in his ministry by four auxiliary bishops and by a staff of clergymen, religious brothers and sisters, and lay people.

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington, the largest non-governmental social service provider in the region, provided services to over 100,000 people last year. Its purpose is to carry out the mandates of the Gospel and the social teaching of the church through works of Christian charity, service, and social justice by providing competent and caring social services, special assistance to those in great need, and programs of community outreach and advocacy using the skills and talents of professional staff and volunteers. Catholic Charities pursues these goals through its own programs and through partnerships with parishes, community groups, and governmental agencies. The seventy-seven programs run by Catholic Charities in fifty-three locations provide a panoply of services, including financial assistance, dental and medical care, pro bono legal aid, adult education, emergency shelters, care for the developmentally disabled, English as a Second Language courses, and many others.

The Consortium of Catholic Academies of the Archdiocese of Washington was founded in order to centralize resources, staff and teacher training, and oversight for inner-city parish elementary schools in Washington, D.C. There are currently four schools in the Consortium: Sacred Heart, in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood of Northwest D.C.; St. Anthony, located in the Brookland neighborhood of Northeast D.C.; and St. Francis Xavier and St. Thomas More, both located in Southeast D.C. Each school serves as a community of faith and service, fully developing each student as a child of God through the four pillars of Catholic schools: Catholic Identity, Academic Excellence, Accessibility, and Affordability.

Archbishop Carroll High School, in Northeast D.C., was at its founding in 1951 the first fully integrated high school in Washington. Archbishop Carroll offers its diverse student body a rigorous college preparatory education in a supportive learning environment. Consistent with its Catholic identity, Carroll teaches its students to integrate faith and life. It stresses the importance of building a just society and provides numerous opportunities for students to participate in charitable work.

The Catholic University of America is the national university of the Catholic Church in the United States, founded and sponsored by the bishops of the country with the approval of the Holy See. The Catholic University of America is committed to being a comprehensive Catholic and American institution of higher learning, faithful to the teachings of Jesus Christ as handed on by the Church. Dedicated to advancing the dialogue between faith and reason, The Catholic University of America seeks to discover and impart the truth through excellence in teaching and research, all in service to the Church, the nation and the world.

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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