The Catholic Diocese of Marquette has issued a response to a ruling by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), saying it is an assault on religious liberty. Bishop Alexander K. Sample distributed a letter to all Catholic parishes in the Upper Peninsula January 28-29. The letter was based on a model letter developed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
It is in response to a January 20th announcement by Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of HHS. Sebelius announced that non-profit employers have one year to comply with the new rule that orders almost every employer and insurer in the country to provide sterilization and contraceptives, including some abortion-inducing drugs, in their health plans.
In his letter, the Bishop stated, “In so ruling, the Obama Administration has cast aside the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, denying to Catholics our Nation’s first and most fundamental freedom, that of religious liberty. And as a result, unless the rule is overturned, we Catholics will be compelled to either violate our consciences, or to drop health coverage for our employees (and suffer the penalties for doing so).”
Sample went on to say, “We cannot – we will not – comply with this unjust law. People of faith cannot be made second class citizens. We are already joined by our brothers and sisters of all faiths and many others of good will in this important effort to regain our religious freedom.”
He also put forth an action call, “First, as a community of faith we must commit ourselves to prayer and fasting that wisdom and justice may prevail, and religious liberty may be restored. Without God, we can do nothing; with God, nothing is impossible. Second, I would also recommend visiting www.usccb.org/conscience to learn more about this severe assault on religious liberty, and how to contact Congress in support of legislation that would reverse the Obama Administration’s decision.”
Bishop Sample’s letter can be read in its entirety by logging on to the diocesan website at: www.dioceseofmarquette.org. A link to the letter is provided under “Recent Headlines.”