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Catholic Social Action
Preserve Religious Freedom!
Dioceses, parishes, and Catholic institutions around the country are highlighting 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 video, educational, and prayer resources for use by parishes and individuals to focus our hearts and minds on our Christian and American heritage of religious freedom.
The USCCB is planning another “Fortnight for Freedom” in late June and early July to emphasize the value of our First Amendment right to religious liberty. The first such two-week observance was launched last summer after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services set Affordable Care Act rules that required most religious institutions to provide contraceptive and abortifacient coverage in insurance programs for their employees. One of the more popular elements of last year’s observance in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati was a yard sign campaign. One thousand signs were distributed to parishes. This year we have arranged for parishes and other institutions within our boundaries to able to buy 24” x 18” corrugated plastic “Preserve Religious Freedom” signs at $4.26 per sign, with a minimum order of 10 required ($42.60.) That price includes stakes and delivery to your address via UPS. The artwork will remain the same as last year. Orders must be sent to the sign manufacturer by May 15 and will be delivered in early June.
Click here to access the Preserve Religious Freedom Signs order form! Order signs for your parish before May 15, 2013!
The HHS Mandate: What Catholics Need to Know
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.
Prayer and Educational Resources for Religious Liberty
Prayer cards (Designed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops)
Litany for Liberty (Designed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops)
Local and National Statements and Information
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)