Statement of Archdiocese of Washington in Response to U.S. Court of Appeals Decision in HHS Mandate Case
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, November 14, 2014
CONTACT: Chieko Noguchi, 301-853-4516 or [email protected]
WASHINGTON – Today’s decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to uphold the HHS mandate against the legal challenge brought by the Archdiocese of Washington and its affiliated ministries is very troubling and deeply flawed. The ruling makes an offensive distinction between the Church and its ministries of service. It specifically classifies the services provided by Catholic hospitals, clinics, universities, schools and social service ministries as “not inherently religious,” and thus disqualified for inclusion in the mandate’s exemption for “houses of worship.” In other words, the Court holds that although churches should not be required to facilitate access to morally offensive products and procedures for their employees, church-affiliated ministries are not “religious enough” to qualify for the very same exemption.
It is precisely because of Catholic teaching that Catholic entities have provided compassionate service, care, and healing in this local community for more than 150 years. This includes Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington, the largest private social service provider in this region. The Catholic Church maintains its commitment to affordable, quality health care. Instead of advancing that goal, the HHS mandate violates the U.S. Constitution and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act by seeking to force the archdiocese and its affiliated ministries to cooperate in the delivery of morally objectionable products and procedures. We remain undeterred in our commitment and determination to serve others freely in accordance with our faith.
We will continue our fight to uphold our first and most sacred freedom. A decision regarding next steps in the aftermath of the court’s ruling will be forthcoming.
The Archdiocese of Washington is home to over 620,000 Catholics, 139 parishes and 95 Catholic schools, located in Washington, D.C., and five Maryland counties: Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s.