Catholic leaders nationwide have vocally responded to HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius' decision that religious institutions will have to provide contraception coverage in health plans for employees, a decision which violates the rights of conscience of many religious institutions and especially affects the Catholic Church. Here are some of their notable responses:
Cardinal-designate Archbishop Timothy Dolan, president of the USCCB, said “In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences.”
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, chairmen of the USCCB committee on pro-life activities said, “Although this new rule gives the agency the discretion to authorize a ‘religious’ exemption, it is so narrow as to exclude most Catholic social service agencies and healthcare providers. For example, under the new rule our institutions would be free to act in accord with Catholic teaching on life and procreation only if they were to stop hiring and serving non-Catholics. Could the federal government possibly intend to pressure Catholic institutions to cease providing health care, education and charitable services to the general public?Health care reform should expand access to basic health care for all, not undermine that goal.”
Notre Dame President John I. Jenkins, CSC, said “I am deeply disappointed in a decision by the administration that will place many religious organizations of all faiths in an untenable position. This unnecessary intervention by the government into religion disregards our nation’s commitment to the rights of conscience and the longstanding work of religious groups to help build a more compassionate society and vibrant democracy. I find that profoundly troubling on many levels. Moving forward, we call for a national dialogue among religious groups, government and the American people to reaffirm our country’s historic respect for freedom of conscience and defense of religious liberty.”
Robbie George, law professor at Princeton, said, "The Obama administration's abortifacient and contraception mandate is appalling, but I cannot claim to be surprised by it. In fact, I would have been surprised---indeed stunned---had the administration done anything significant to honor or protect the rights of Catholics and others on whose consciences the mandate will impose. In every area touching the sanctity of human life and issues of sexual morality, the Obama administration is aggressively prosecuting the agenda its critics predicted and its most ardent left-wing supporters hoped for. Those who are driving the train, including key administration officials who self-identify as members of the Catholic Church, have no regard for the ethical beliefs of Catholics and others when they are in conflict with left-liberal orthodoxy. Their task, as they perceive it, is to fortify and expand the "right to abortion" and "sexual freedom" wherever they can. They pursue this agenda with a religious zeal because, in fact, the ideology in which abortion is a "right" and "sexual freedom" is a core value is their religion. These beliefs are integral to their worldview. If, like Kathleen Sebelius, they happen to be Catholics, you can be assured that it won't be Catholic teaching, or the Judaeo-Christian ethic, that shapes their policies on issues of life and death and marriage and sexual morality; it will be liberal ideology---pure and simple---that does the shaping."