Los Angeles, Calif., Jan 25, 2012 / 04:02 am
Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles urged lay Catholics to defend the faith after the Department of Health and Human Services refused to reverse a contraception mandate set to take effect in Aug. 2013.
“In this case, the government is imposing a narrow, radically individualistic idea of religion,” Archbishop Gomez said in a column published this week in his archdiocesan newspaper, the Tidings.
On Jan. 20, Department of Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that the administration would not expand a religious exemption for employers who object to its “preventative services” mandate.
The policy, originally introduced in an Aug. 2011 interim rule, requires health insurance plans to cover contraception – including drugs that cause abortion – and sterilization free of charge.
To qualify for a religious exemption under the policy, religious organizations must employ and serve primarily members of their own faith and must exist for the purpose of teaching religious values.
Many religious organizations objected to the rule, however, saying that they would not qualify because they provide education, health care and other services to people of all religions. But the Obama administration dismissed their requests, saying that the religious exemption would not be expanded.