43 Catholic organizations file 12 lawsuits against the Obama administration

In a massive coordinated action, 43 Catholic hospitals, schools, universities, publishing companies, and dioceses, including the Catholic University of America, Notre Dame University, the Archdiocese of New York, the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., and Our Sunday Visitor, filed 12 lawsuits against the Federal Government today over the HHS mandate.  

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, applauded the action.  His statement is worth reading in its entirety:

“We have tried negotiation with the Administration and legislation with the Congress – and we’ll keep at it – but there’s still no fix. Time is running out, and our valuable ministries and fundamental rights hang in the balance, so we have to resort to the courts now. Though the Conference is not a party to the lawsuits, we applaud this courageous action by so many individual dioceses, charities, hospitals and schools across the nation, in coordination with the law firm of Jones Day. It is also a compelling display of the unity of the Church in defense of religious liberty. It’s also a great show of the diversity of the Church’s ministries that serve the common good and that are jeopardized by the mandate – ministries to the poor, the sick, and the uneducated, to people of any faith or no faith at all.”

Fr Jenkins, president of Notre Dame University, issued a strong statement today.  Fr Jenkins has come under fire for inviting pro-abortion President Obama to give the commencement address at Notre Dame, awarding him an honorary degree.  A key excerpt from Fr Jenkins’ statement today absolutely nails the issue:

This filing is about the freedom of a religious organization to live its mission, and its significance goes well beyond any debate about contraceptives. For if we concede that the Government can decide which religious organizations are sufficiently religious to be awarded the freedom to follow the principles that define their mission, then we have begun to walk down a path that ultimately leads to the undermining of those institutions. For if one Presidential Administration can override our religious purpose and use religious organizations to advance policies that undercut our values, then surely another Administration will do the same for another very different set of policies, each time invoking some concept of popular will or the public good, with the result these religious organizations become mere tools for the exercise of government power, morally subservient to the state, and not free from its infringements. If that happens, it will be the end of genuinely religious organizations in all but name.

We need to remember:

  • This is not about contraceptives; nobody is suggesting making them illegal or even hard to obtain
  • This is not about women’s access to contraceptives; they are ubiquitous
  • This is not a partisan issue; liberals and conservatives alike should agree on the First Amendment
  • This is not a fight that the Catholic Church started or was looking for
  • This is not a Catholic issue; freedom of religion for all is at stake
  • This is not only a religious freedom issue; if the administration can demolish the primary provision of the First Amendment, the entire Bill of Rights is at stake
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