BISHOPS RENEW PLEA TO CONGRESS AND ADMINISTRATION TO REPAIR AFFORDABLE CARE ACT
Supreme Court decision does not address fundamental flaws in the law Legislation still needed to fix conscience, abortion funding, immigration problems
WASHINGTON—Today the United States Supreme Court issued a decision upholding as a tax the provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that requires individuals to purchase a health plan—the so-called “individual mandate.”
For nearly a century, the Catholic bishops of the United States have been and continue to be consistent advocates for comprehensive health care reform to ensure access to life-affirming health care for all, especially the poorest and the most vulnerable. Although the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) did not participate in these cases and took no position on the specific questions presented to the Court, USCCB’s position on health care reform generally and on ACA particularly is a matter of public record. The bishops ultimately opposed final passage of ACA for several reasons.
First, ACA allows use of federal funds to pay for elective abortions and for plans that cover such abortions, contradicting longstanding federal policy. The risk we identified in this area has already materialized, particularly in the initial approval by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) of “high risk” insurance pools that would have covered abortion.
Second, the Act fails to include necessary language to provide essential conscience protection, both within and beyond the abortion context. We have provided extensive analyses of ACA’s defects with respect to both abortion and conscience. The lack of statutory conscience protections applicable to ACA’s new mandates has been illustrated in dramatic fashion by HHS’s “preventive services” mandate, which forces religious and other employers to cover sterilization and contraception, including abortifacient drugs.
Third, ACA fails to treat immigrant workers and their families fairly. ACA leaves them worse off by not allowing them to purchase health coverage in the new exchanges created under the law, even if they use their own money. This undermines the Act’s stated goal of promoting access to basic life-affirming health care for everyone, especially for those most in need.
Following enactment of ACA, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has not joined in efforts to repeal the law in its entirety, and we do not do so today. The decision of the Supreme Court neither diminishes the moral imperative to ensure decent health care for all, nor eliminates the need to correct the fundamental flaws described above. We therefore continue to urge Congress to pass, and the Administration to sign, legislation to fix those flaws.
Bishop Conlon talks about Religious Freedom
Illinois Catholic Health Association’s Fortnight for Freedom Radio Campaign Begins
"We are Catholic organizations.
We care for the sick, educate students, feed the hungry and shelter the homeless.
Our faith extends beyond the walls of a church.
But the government doesn't see it that way.
It's mandating we act in a way inconsistent with our character, mission, and values.
As faith based organizations, we have a right to follow our conscience - and a right to religious freedom.
Learn more at ilcatholic.org."
“Fortnight for Freedom” to Defend Religious Liberty May 30, 2012
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) this summer is conducting a “Fortnight for Freedom” to begin with the vigil of the feasts of St. Thomas More and St. John Fischer and culminate with Independence Day. The purpose of this effort is to issue a call to defend religious liberty, and to urge the laity to work to protect the First Freedom of the Bill of Rights.
The Illinois bishops’ contribution to the “Fortnight for Freedom” is to launch the Illinois Catholic Advocacy Network, or I-CAN.
Priests from across the diocese have been asked to set aside a few minutes at the time of announcements during the weekend Masses of June 23 and June 30 to talk about the obligation to be formed and informed on the issues of the day, and to ask parishioners to fill out I-CAN sign-up pew cards. The Catholic Conference of Illinois (CCI) has additional resources available on its website: http://www.catholicconferenceofillinois.org/
Lay Catholics need to become more engaged with state and federal policies that affect the Church and her mission. The loss of state foster care and adoption contracts for Catholic Charities and the federal HHS mandate forcing insurance coverage of abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives and sterilizations highlight the need for Catholics to be informed about the Church’s role in the public square.
I-CAN allows the laity to sign up for occasional email updates from CCI. Catholic conferences in other states are developing similar networks.
CCI this spring conducted pilot projects for I-CAN sign-ups across the state, garnering a very positive response. Lay Catholics want a voice, especially when the government is increasingly encroaching on the mission and the operations of the Church.
The Joliet Diocese will be publishing a special resource for parishioners with prayers for each day of the Fortnight. As well, parishes are being encouraged to organize small group studies on the bishops' document "Our First, Most Cherished Liberty."
The Diocese of Joliet Joins Other Plaintiffs
to Get HHS Mandate Overturned
May 21, 2012 Statement by Bishop R. Daniel Conlon of the Diocese of Joliet, Illinois
Today lawsuits have been filed in a dozen federal district courts by many Catholic dioceses, Catholic Charities, universities, hospitals and other Catholic organizations against several federal departments, challenging the mandate issued by the federal Department of Health and Human Services that requires religious employers to include contraceptives, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs in their health insurance programs. The Diocese of Joliet and Joliet Catholic Charities are among the plaintiffs. Read more...
April 12, 2012
BISHOPS ISSUE CALL TO ACTION TO DEFEND RELIGIOUS LIBERTY
Urge strong lay involvement
Outline threats to First Freedom at all levels of government and abroad
Call upon dioceses to pursue religious liberty fortnight, June 21-July 4
WASHINGTON —The U.S. bishops have issued a call to action to defend religious liberty and urged laity to work to protect the First Freedom of the Bill of Rights. They outlined their position in “Our First, Most Cherished Freedom.” The document was developed by the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), approved for publication by the USCCB Administrative Committee March 13, and published in English and Spanish April 12.
“We have been staunch defenders of religious liberty in the past. We have a solemn duty to discharge that duty today,” the bishops said in the document, “… for religious liberty is under attack, both at home and abroad.”
The document lists concerns that prompt the bishops to act now.
US Bishops Launch Nationwide Prayer Effort for Religious Liberty
At a recent Administrative Committee meeting, bishops from around the country agreed that prayer was needed to support its call to protect religious freedom and conscience rights, especially concerning the Health and Human Services’ contraception/sterilization mandate.
So the bishops have announced a nationwide call to prayer for religious liberty.
“Most importantly of all, we call upon the Catholic faithful, and all people of faith, throughout our country to join us in prayer and penance for our leaders and for the restoration of our First Freedom -- religious liberty -- which is not only protected in the laws and customs of our great Nation,” the bishops said in a statement, “ but rooted in the teachings of our great Tradition. Prayer is the ultimate source of our strength -- for without God, we can do nothing; but with God, all things are possible.”
The prayer cards, in English and Spanish, can also be ordered in bulk at the following site, with shipping available starting in early April: www.usccbpublishing.org.
Bishop R. Daniel Conlon fully supports the prayer campaign and the need to educate others on the issue.
O GOD OUR CREATOR,
from your provident hand we have received
our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
You have called us as your people and given us
the right and the duty to worship you, the only true God,
and your Son, Jesus Christ.
Through the power and working of your Holy Spirit,
you call us to live out our faith in the midst of the world,
bringing the light and the saving truth of the Gospel
to every corner of society.
We ask you to bless us
in our vigilance for the gift of religious liberty.
Give us the strength of mind and heart
to readily defend our freedoms when they are threatened;
give us courage in making our voices heard
on behalf of the rights of your Church
and the freedom of conscience of all people of faith.
Grant, we pray, O heavenly Father,
a clear and united voice to all your sons and daughters
gathered in your Church
in this decisive hour in the history of our nation,
so that, with every trial withstood
and every danger overcome—
for the sake of our children, our grandchildren,
and all who come after us—
this great land will always be “one nation, under God,
indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
BISHOPS PROMISE TO CONTINUE ‘VIGOROUS EFFORTS’ AGAINST HHS VIOLATIONS OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN HEALTH CARE REFORM MANDATE
Declare government has no place defining religion, religious ministry
Seek protection for conscience rights of institutions, individuals
Stress action with the public, White House, Congress, courts
WASHINGTON — The U.S. bishops are strongly united in their ongoing and determined efforts to protect religious freedom, the Administrative Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) said in a March 14 statement.
The Administrative Committee, chaired by Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, president of the USCCB, is the highest authority of the bishops’ conference outside the semi-annual sessions of the full body of bishops. The Committee’s membership consists of the elected chairmen of all the USCCB permanent committees and an elected bishop representative from each of the geographic regions of the USCCB.
The Administrative Committee said it was “strongly unified and intensely focused in its opposition to the various threats to religious freedom in our day.” The bishops will continue their vigorous work of education on religious freedom, dialogue with the executive branch, legislative initiatives and efforts in the courts to defend religious freedom. They promised a longer statement on the principles at the heart of religious freedom, which will come later from the bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty. Read more...
March 3, 2012
Senate Votes to Table Blunt Amendment
On March 1, the Senate voted 51-yes, 48-no, to table the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act presented as Amendment 1520 to the Transportation Authorization Bill (Roll Call 24). Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) was the primary sponsor of Senate Amendment 1520. Read more...
March 2, 2012
CARDINAL DOLAN VOICES DISMAY AT HANDLING BY WHITE HOUSE IN LETTER UPDATING BISHOPS ON HHS MANDATE CONTROVERSY
My brother bishops,
Twice in recent weeks, I have written you to express my gratitude for our unity in faith and action as we move forward to protect our religious freedom from unprecedented intrusion from a government bureau, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). I remain deeply grateful to you for your determined resolve, to the Chairmen of our committees directly engaged in these efforts - Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Bishop Stephen Blaire and Bishop William Lori -who have again shown themselves to be such excellent leaders during these past weeks, and to all our staff at the USCCB who work so diligently under the direction of the Conference leadership. Read more...
March 1, 2012
SENATE VOTE TO SET ASIDE CONSCIENCE ACT MARKS CHANCE TO BUILD BIPARTISAN SUPPORT, SEEK JUDICIAL REMEDIES FOR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
WASHINGTON - The Senate's 51-48 vote March 1 to table the bipartisan Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (S. 1467), sponsored by Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) and 37 other senators, impels the Church to strengthen its resolve to support religious freedom. Read more...
Since we last wrote to you concerning the critical efforts we are undertaking together to
protect religious freedom in our beloved country, many of you have requested that we write once
more to update you on the situation and to again request the assistance of all the faithful in this
important work. We are happy to do so now.
Bishops Renew Call to Legislative Action on Religious Liberty
February 10, 2012
Regulatory changes limited and unclear
Rescission of mandate only complete solution
Continue urging passage of Respect for Rights of Conscience Act
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has issued the following statement:
The Catholic bishops have long supported access to life-affirming healthcare for all, and the conscience rights of everyone involved in the complex process of providing that healthcare. That is why we raised two serious objections to the "preventive services" regulation issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in August 2011.
Bishop Conlon Addresses HHS Mandates to the People of the Diocese of Joliet
Dear Friends in Christ,
On January 20th an agency of the federal government created a serious threat to the freedom of religion guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. As Americans and Christians, we must take steps to counter this threat. Read more...
Monseñor Conlon Declara a la Diócesis de Joliet sobre la Directiva del Departamento de Salud y Servicios Humanos
31 de enero de 2012
Queridos amigos en Cristo,
El día 20 de enero, una agencia federal del gobierno hizo una seria amenaza a la libertad de religión, garantizada por la Primera Enmienda de la Constitución de los Estados Unidos. Como americanos y cristianos, debemos tomar acciones para enfrentar esta amenaza. Leer más...
Umiłowani w Chrystusie Przyjaciele,
20-go stycznia tego roku, jedna z agencji rządu federalnego wywołała poważny kryzys stwarzając zagrożenie dla wolności praktyki religii, gwarantowanej przez Pierwszą Poprawkę do Konstytucji Stanów Zjednoczonych. Jako obywatele amerykańscy oraz chrześcijanie, jesteśmy zobowiązani do działania, aby zapobiec temuż zagrożeniu. Czytaj więcej...
January 26, 2012
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Mandate Statement
Leaders in the Catholic Church are extremely concerned since hearing in late January that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is requiring virtually all private health plans, starting on Aug. 1, 2012, to include coverage for all FDA-approved prescription contraceptives, female sterilization procedures, and related “patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity.” Read more...
WASHINGTON—The Catholic bishops of the United States called “literally unconscionable” a decision by the
Obama Administration to continue to demand that sterilization, abortifacients and contraception be included in
virtually all health plans. Today's announcement means that this mandate and its very narrow exemption will not
change at all; instead there will only be a delay in enforcement against some employers. Read more...
USCCB Special Website Dedicated to Conscience Issues
Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, president of the USCCB, sharply criticized the decision by the Obama administration in which it "ordered almost every employer and insurer in the country to provide sterilization and contraceptives, including some abortion-inducing drugs, in their health plans....Never before has the federal government forced individuals and organizations to go out into the marketplace and buy a product that violates their conscience. This shouldn't happen in a land where free exercise of religion ranks first in the Bill of Rights." Read the text & watch his video.
FEDERAL CONTRACEPTION/STERILIZATION MANDATE
The contraceptive mandate imposed on health plans by the Department of Health and
Human Services (HHS) violates freedom of conscience, which is guaranteed by the First
Amendment and several federal laws. Read more...
THE NEW FEDERAL MANDATE FOR CONTRACEPTION/STERILIZATION COVERAGE
On August 1, 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued an “interim final rule” to require virtually all private health plans to include coverage for all FDA-approved prescription contraceptives, female sterilization procedures, and related “patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity.” These are listed among “preventive services for women” that all health plans will have to include without co-pays or other cost-sharing -- even if the insurer, the employer or other plan sponsor, or the woman herself object to such coverage. Read more...