The U.S. bishops are strongly united in their ongoing and determined efforts to protect religious freedom, the
The Administrative Committee, chaired by Cardinal
The full statement can be found at www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/upload/Admin-Religious-Freedom.pdf and www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/march-14-statement-on-religious-freedom-and-hhs-mandate.cfm
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'
The bishops noted that the
The bishops thanked supporters from the Catholic community and beyond "who have stood firmly with us in our vigorous opposition to this unjust and illegal mandate."
"It is your enthusiastic unity in defense of religious freedom that has made such a dramatic and positive impact in this historic public debate."
The bishops said this dispute is not about access to contraceptives but about the government's forcing the Church to provide them. Their concerns are not just for the
"Indeed, this is not about the Church wanting to force anybody to do anything; it is instead about the federal government forcing the Church - consisting of its faithful and all but a few of its institutions - to act against Church teachings," they said.
The Church has worked for universal healthcare in
The bishops called the HHS mandate "an unwarranted government definition of religion," with government deciding who is a religious employer deserving exemption from the law.
"The introduction of this unprecedented defining of faith communities and their ministries has precipitated this struggle for religious freedom," the bishops said.
"Government has no place defining religion and religious ministry," they said.
"If this definition is allowed to stand, it will spread throughout federal law, weakening its healthy tradition of generous respect for religious freedom and diversity," they said.
The bishops said the government's foray into church governance "where government has no legal competence or authority" is beyond disturbing. Those deemed by HHS not to be "religious employers," the bishops said, "will be forced by government to violate their own teachings within their very own institutions. This is not only an injustice in itself, but it also undermines the effective proclamation of those teachings to the faithful and to the world."