Washington D.C., May 21, 2012 / 09:39 am
Forty-three Catholic dioceses and organizations across the country have announced religious liberty lawsuits against the federal government to challenge the Obama administration’s contraception mandate.
The announcement was applauded by Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, who called it “a compelling display of the unity of the Church in defense of religious liberty.”
“We have tried negotiation with the Administration and legislation with the Congress – and we’ll keep at it – but there's still no fix,” said Cardinal Dolan, who is the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
“Time is running out, and our valuable ministries and fundamental rights hang in the balance, so we have to resort to the courts now,” he explained in a May 21 statement.
The bishops’ conference is not a party to the lawsuits, although several individual dioceses across the country are.
Cardinal Dolan praised the “courageous action” as “a great show of the diversity of the Church's ministries that serve the common good and that are jeopardized by the mandate.”
The lawsuits argue that a federal mandate issued by the Obama administration violates their fundamental religious liberty. The controversial mandate will require employers to offer health insurance plans that cover contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs, even if doing so violates their consciences.
The mandate has drawn heavy criticism from bishops in every diocese in the U.S. They warned that the regulation could force Catholic schools, hospitals and charitable agencies around the nation to close down.