Catholic Social Action Contact:

Tony Stieritz – Director
Tammie Mers – Administrative Assistant

Catholic Social Action
100 East 8th Street
Cincinnati, OH 45202
Phone: (513) 421-3131 ext. 2660
Fax: (513) 421-1582
Email: csa@catholiccincinnati.org

Dayton Office
Pam Long – Regional Director
Tracie Laughlin – Administrative Assistant

Catholic Social Action
1436 Needmore Road
Dayton, OH 45414
Phone: (937) 224-3026
Fax: (937) 341-5036
Email: csadayton@catholiccincinnati.org

Preserve Religious Freedom!

Resources from the 2014 Fortnight for Freedom


fortnight-for-freedom-english-spanish-color-no-year-270-animated[1]In 2014, the Fortnight for Freedom theme was “Freedom to Serve.”  The theme of this year’s Fortnight focused on the freedom to serve the poor and vulnerable in accord with human dignity and the Church’s teaching.  Below are some resources prepared by the Archdiocese of Cincinnati as well as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that can continue to  help parishes and faith communities recognize this theme.

More Resources

Dioceses, parishes, and Catholic institutions around the country continue to highlight the importance of preserving our religious freedoms.  Among other examples, this freedom is under attack from such actions as the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services’ contraceptive mandate for religious institutions as well as state laws that would limit what populations of people the Church may serve, such as undocumented migrants.  Background on current threats to religious liberty, both at home and abroad, including opportunities for action, can be found at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website here.

The Archdiocese of Cincinnati offers this page of resources, in addition to the materials provided by the USCCB, for use by parishes and individuals to focus our hearts and minds on our Christian and American heritage of religious freedom.

The HHS Mandate: What Catholics Need to Know

Ohio Council of Churches Statement of Concern on Religious Liberty!

The Ohio Council of Churches (OCC), which includes 18 Christian denominations in the state of Ohio, has issued a statement expressing concerns about religious liberty and the HHS mandate, which attempts to define which religious institutions are religious enough to follow their own teachings and which are not in certain circumstances. An excerpt of the statement reads:

This mandate sets a concerning precedent for any religious institution which may find itself in a position of having values that, within reason, challenge that of the state… Therefore, in light of the concerns raised by the HHS mandate, even with the great diversity to be found in the communities comprising the OCC, we call upon our elected leaders, government officials of all levels, and the religious community, to work for two goals: 1) actively to pursue changes that would broaden the religious exemption within the current mandate, and 2) to propose and implement safeguards in legislation on social issues that will respect and protect religious liberty and the rights of conscience.

Read the full statement here!

Background and Opportunities for Action on the HHS mandate

On January 20, 2012, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reaffirmed a rule forcing virtually all private health care plans to cover sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs, and contraception. These are listed among “preventive services for women” that all health plans will have to cover without co-pays or other cost-sharing.

The exemption provided for “religious employers” is so narrow that it fails to cover the vast majority of faith-based organizations, including Catholic hospitals, universities, and service organizations that help millions every year.  What is most objectionable about the HHS rule is that it only defines those institutions worthy enough for an exemption as those which 1) has the inculcation of religious values as its purpose; 2) primarily employs persons who share its religious tenets; 3) primarily serves persons who share its religious tenets; and 4) is a non-proft-entity.  (View the ruling in the Federal Register here.)  To the contrary, our Catholic hospitals, universities, and service organizations exist to serve everyone, regardless of faith.  Yet the Administration’s rule has essentially declared that these institutions are not religious enough to fully operate by their moral principles.

On February 10, 2012, the Administration made this rule final “without change”; delayed enforcement for a year against religious nonprofits that were still not exempted (our charities, hospitals, and colleges); and promised to develop more regulations to “accommodate” them by the end of that additional year.  But that promised “accommodation” still forces them to pay for “services” that violate their religious convictions.

The Catholic Church and many other religious leaders are reiterating our firm position that the freedom to follow one’s conscience and to have access to health care are both fundamental human rights.
 Take action today!

Local and National Statements and Information

Background information from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

Letter from Archbishop Schnurr urges participation in Fortnight for Freedom, May 2013

Archbishop Dennis Schnurr urges religious freedom action, Jan. 16, 2013

Statement of Archbishop Dennis Schnurr on HHS Mandate Lawsuits, May 23, 2012

Impact of HHS Mandate on Catholic Charities: An Interview with Kathleen Donnellan, retired Chief Executive Officer of Catholic Charities of Southwest Ohio

Archdiocese Lenten Press Release, Feb.-21, 2012 (including statements from Archbishop Schnurr, Catholic Health Partners, Catholic Charities of Southwest Ohio, St. Vincent de Paul — Cincinnati Council, Xavier University, and College of Mount St. Joseph)

Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr’s response to the proposed “accommodation”, Feb. 13, 2012

Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr’s statement, Jan. 26, 2012

Additional information and resources compiled by The Catholic Telegraph

Response from Catholic Relief Services

Response from Catholic Charities USA

Response from Catholic Health Partners

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops statements and resources on Health Care Reform

Archdiocese of Cincinnati Statement on Health Care Reform, Aug. 2009http://bcove.me/7lk73omo