Federal lawsuits by Catholic dioceses
Federal lawsuits by Catholic dioceses, groups seek to stop HHS mandate.
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Forty-three Catholic dioceses, schools, hospitals, social service agencies and other institutions filed suit in federal court May 21 to stop three government agencies from implementing a mandate that would require them to provide contraceptives and sterilization to their employees.
"Through this lawsuit, plaintiffs do not seek to impose their religious beliefs on others," said one of the suits, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana by the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Catholic Charities of the diocese, St. Anne Home and Retirement Community, Franciscan Alliance, University of St. Francis and Our Sunday Visitor.
"They simply ask that the government not impose its values and policies on plaintiffs, in direct violation of their religious beliefs," it added.
Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, whose archdiocese is among the plaintiffs, said the lawsuits were "a compelling display of the unity of the church in defense of religious liberty" and "a great show of the diversity of the church's ministries that serve the common good and that are jeopardized by the mandate."
"We have tried negotiations with the administration and legislation with the Congress -- and we'll keep at it -- but there's still no fix," the cardinal said. "Time is running out and our valuable ministries and fundamental rights hang in the balance, so we have to resort to the courts now."
Cardinal Dolan also is president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which is not a party to the lawsuits.
Catholic organizations have objected to the contraceptive mandate since it was announced Jan. 20 by Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Unless they are subject to a narrow religious exemption or have a grandfathered health plan, employers will be required to pay for contraceptives, including some abortion-inducing drugs, and sterilizations as part of their health coverage.
MORE TO COME
05/21/2012 11:47 AM ET
Copyright (c) 2012 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops