Statement of the Archdiocese of Washington on HHS Mandate Upheld by Obama Administration

January 20, 2012

The Archdiocese of Washington echoes the concerns raised by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in a statement released Friday in response to the Obama Administration’s decision to enact regulations that will force most Catholic employers to provide health care plans covering sterilization procedures and all FDA approved contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs.

Until now, no federal law has required anyone to purchase, sell, sponsor, or be covered by a private health plan that violates his or her conscience. Under the HHS edict, however, virtually all Catholic charitable organizations, hospitals, schools, colleges and universities that want to provide for the needs of their employees and students in a manner consistent with Catholic moral teachings will be placed in the untenable position of having to choose between violating the law and violating their conscience.

Religious liberty is the most cherished and fundamental of American freedoms. As Thomas Jefferson observed in 1809, “No provision in our Constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience against the enterprises of the civil authority.”

In a meeting with Cardinal Donald Wuerl and other American bishops on Thursday, Pope Benedict XVI addressed recent attacks on religious freedom, calling upon the American Catholic community to realize they are “grave threats to the Church’s public moral witness presented by a radical secularism which finds increasing expression in the political and cultural spheres.” In response to these threats, Pope Benedict said the Church urges the Catholic laity to have the courage to proclaim “respect for God’s gift of life, the protection of human dignity and the promotion of authentic human rights.”

As Cardinal Wuerl has previously stated, “No freedom is more precious and deserving of vigilance than our freedom of conscience.”

Chieko Noguchi
Office of Communications
[email protected]