Urgent Letter - Bishop Gregory Mansour on Religious Liberty

Eparchy of Saint Maron of Brooklyn
Office of the Bishop
February 3, 2012

Dear Friends:
There can no longer be any doubt that religious liberty in our country is in jeopardy. On January 20, 2012, the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) with the approval of President Obama issued a new federal mandate making coverage of all abortive drugs, sterilization, and FDA-approved contraceptives obligatory for virtually all employees, including those Working in faith-based institutions.
The new mandate is the first federal regulation in our nation’s history to require all religious institutions to pay for this coverage. Now nearly all those who provide insurance must comply. To force Catholics to provide these mandated services violates both our faith conviction and our freedom.
In upholding this regulation, the Administration has ignored the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States and has denied Catholics the most fundamental freedom, religious liberty. Despite the Church’s appeal for a broader religious exemption, which was echoed by many other faiths, the Administration refused to modify the regulation’s current exemption that is limited to religious groups that hire and serve people primarily of their own faith. Most churches and church­run institutions do not qualify for the exemption because of our very openness to serving the common good of society and all people regardless of creed in hospitals, universities, social service agencies, etc.

Catholics of all backgrounds across America are already lighting this mandate. The HHS rules are unjust and unreasonable. There is no need for this in a land of freedom! Leaders of major Catholic organizations, such as the Catholic Health Association, Catholic Relief Services, Catholic Charities USA, as Well as Catholic Universities and Schools, and people like you and I, as Catholics and as Americans who love this great country, must continue to speak out against this new, unprecedented mandate.
With God, nothing is impossible.
Prayer and speaking out should be combined with thoughtful and harmonious action. Please visit www.usccb.org/conscience to learn more about this blow to religious liberty and how we can find the right resources to support legislation that would reverse the effects of the Administration’s decision.
With gratitude for your collaboration important matter and with every good wish, I am
Yours in Christ,
+Gregory John Mansour