.- Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Denver is supporting the U.S. bishops' stance against the Obama administration's “accommodation” of religious freedom within the contraception mandate.
In a Feb. 14 announcement, the organization backed the bishops' rejection of the Department of Health and Human Services proposal which it said “continues to involve needless government intrusion” in the practice of all religions in the U.S.
On Jan. 20, the Obama administration announced that employers must provide free sterilization, abortifacients and contraception to employees as part of preventative healthcare, regardless of the employer's religious or moral opposition to such services.
After strong criticism from religious leaders, faith-based hospitals, charities and schools, President Obama offered an “accommodation” in a Feb. 10 announcement for those who said the original infringed on their religious freedom.
The revised mandate will require employers to contract with health insurance companies that offer contraceptive services free of charge, rather than directly pay for the services for employees.
However, even with the proposed accommodation, the mandate would “hinder our ability to serve communities” and make it “morally compromising” to provide healthcare, the charity said.
The mandate currently provides narrow exemptions for religious organizations that mainly hire and serve members of the same faith and for the purpose of promoting religious values.
But Denver Catholic Charities serves people in need “regardless of religion, gender, economic situation, or ethnic background” and therefore does not qualify for the exemption, it said.
The charity, which spends $35 million annually on services for children, elderly and homeless in Colorado communities, said that their operations would be hindered by the new mandate, even with the religious accommodation as proposed by President Obama.
The organization said they use public money for many of their ministries, but that they are “trusted” with public funds because they “provide excellent service.”
“This relationship has been mutually beneficial … without compromising the integrity of the Catholic Church.”
In its statement, the organization voiced hope that all Catholic organizations will “join the Catholic Bishops in their urgent and vigorous defense of conscience and the freedom of religion.”