Bishop Hebda Reacts to HHS Ruling; Calls for ActionJanuary 30, 2012
Memorial of St. Thomas Aquinas
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
In union with my brother bishops throughout the United States, I write to you concerning an alarming and serious matter that negatively impacts the Church in the United States directly, and that strikes at the fundamental right to religious liberty for all citizens of any faith. The federal government has just dealt a heavy blow to almost a quarter of those people—the Catholic population—and to the millions more who are served by the Catholic faithful in our hospitals, social service agencies, and schools.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced last week that virtually all employers, including Catholic employers, will be forced to offer their employees health coverage that includes sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs, and contraception. Almost all health insurers will be forced to include those “services” in the health policies they write. And almost all individuals will be forced to buy that coverage as a part of their policies.
In so ruling, the Administration has cast aside our Nation’s first and most fundamental freedom, that of religious liberty. 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). The Administration’s sole concession was to give our institutions one year to comply.
We cannot – we will not -- acquiesce to this unjust law.
As your Bishop I would ask of you two things. First, I would recommend that you strive to learn more about this severe assault on religious liberty, and help make our needs known to those who represent us in Washington, D.C. The Conference of Catholic Bishops will be keeping us updated and links will be posted to our diocesan website ( www.dioceseofgaylord.org ) for more information. Second, and even more importantly, I would ask that we commit ourselves as a community of faith to prayer and fasting that wisdom and justice may prevail, and religious liberty may be restored. I am also asking your pastors to schedule opportunities for prayer for this special intention for the remainder of 2012.
As I join my brother bishops from Michigan and Ohio in travelling this weekend to Rome for our ad limina visit, know that I will carry this intention with me to the tomb of the Apostles Peter and Paul who have reminded the Church throughout the ages that Without God, we can do nothing; with God, nothing is impossible.
Wishing you God’s choicest blessings, I remain
Sincerely in Christ,
Most Rev. Bernard A. Hebda
Bishop of Gaylord
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