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Freedom to Believe

If you follow the Catholic News in America, then by now you have probably heard about the new federal mandate to require all health insurance plans to cover sterilization, contraception, and abortifacients as preventative health care. 

Here in the Diocese of Rochester, our Bishop Clark issued a letter today (2/1/12) to be distributed this weekend  in parishes speaking on this very issue.  (You can find more information of our diocesan website at

The New York State Catholic Conference distributed an email this week encouraging us to contact our U.S. Senators through the National Committee for a Human Life Amendment (click here to take action). 

And, of course, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is speaking very loudly and clearly on this issue.

Yes, there is debate about the morality of abortion, contraception, and sterilization.  The problem with mandating coverage for these procedures is that it forces the Catholic Church to either violate its own beliefs and offer the coverage or stop offering insurance coverage for its employees.  Since we are moving towards mandatory health care coverage, the latter may not be an option.  This may lead to the only acceptable option being for the Catholic Church to shut down many of its schools, hospitals, and agencies that offer assistance for the poor and the vulnerable.  Could this lead to shutting down Catholic hospitals and Catholic Charities agencies across the nation? 

These regulations are set to become affecting in August 2012.  A one year extension has been granted for non-profits to “come into compliance.”  A one year extension does not help in any way when we are talking about violating our fundamental beliefs.

The regulations do provide for an exemption for religious organizations.  Here is what the USCCB says about that.

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. Ironically, not even Jesus & his disciples would have qualified (

The exemption for religious organization would probably only include individual parishes and would not include Catholic schools, hospitals, or Catholic Charities.

It is a matter of conscience.  While the teaching of the Catholic Church stands against abortion, contraception, and sterilization, the Catholic Church and its schools, hospitals, and agencies do not prohibit people from receiving this procedures (admitting we would like to see these procedures, most especially abortion, prohibited).  In regards to this new policy, we are simply asking that we not be forced to pay for procedures that violate our beliefs. 

Our society is moving more and more towards absolute relativism.  Relativism says that there is no (absolute) truth.  Each person is free to believe what they want as long as it doesn’t hurt someone else.  If society is moving towards relativism, then how come the Catholic Church (and any other church or group with similar beliefs) is being forced to violate its beliefs?

Remember you can take action at


Fr. Jeff

P.S.  By the way, there is an absolute truth.  It is defined by God.

P.S.S. If you don’t follow Catholic News in the United States but would like to check out


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