UPDATE: Some Bishops Vow Civil Disobedience Against HHS Contraception Mandate

Over at dotCommonweal, Grant Gallicho reports that Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix announced that his diocese will not comply with the Department of Health and Human Services’ contraception mandate. Actually, Bishop Olmsted isn’t the only bishop who suggested his diocese will disobey the law. As my colleague Thomas Peters’ post showed, Archbishop Dennis Schnurr of Cincinnati and Bishop David Ricken of Green Bay, Wisconsin suggested the same in their public statements.

In fact, each bishop used the exact same language to describe the reasons their diocese will not comply with the impending mandate:

We cannot – we will not comply with this unjust law. People of faith cannot be made second-class citizens. We are already joined by our brothers and sisters of all faiths and many others of good will in this important effort to regain our religious freedom. Our parents and grandparents did not come to these shores to help build America’s cities and towns, its infrastructure and institutions, its enterprise and culture, only to have their prosperity stripped of their God given rights. In generations past, the Church has always been able to count on the faithful to stand up and protect her sacred rights and duties. I hope she can trust on this generation of Catholics to do the same. Our children and grandchildren deserve nothing less.

The use of the same language surely is not a coincidence. The bishops are getting it from the same source.

Yet other bishops did not use this language. They called on lay Catholics to contact their members of Congress or denounced the ruling. In other words, the bishops have not adopted a uniform strategy to oppose the impending federal mandate. Some vow civil disobedience. Others urge the laity to go through their elected representatives.

I don’t think these are the only options on the table — anyone want to follow the lead of Archbishop Burke or Archbishop Rummel of New Orleans against the Catholics in the Obama administration? But the use of similar language suggests that the bishops already are deliberating among them.

UPDATE: As CV reader Joseph points out, the statement of Bishop Placido Rodriguez of Lubbock, Tex. contained the same language as the three prelates mentioned above.



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  • Valerie Terzi

    This HHS Contraception Mandate has brought a cloud over our Catholic community, I’m still shocked over this absolute disregard for religious freedom that we are witnessing at this time. It’s like a slap in the face of all Catholics, Democrats like me, and Republicans. We need to let go of our political views for a moment and contemplate just how serious a threat this is to our religious freedom. How do we handle this? I agree with the post that asked just how we can avoid paying for the birth control since it’s so securely imbedded in health care, though we all know that it has nothing to do with health care and everything to do with convenience, and we all know that this free birth control will be aimed at the poor (already is) and we all know that the Catholic Church cannot possibly be forced into accepting it, yet this is what is happening. The solution to this must be carefully thought out, meanwhile, if it’s too difficult for Democrats to vote in a Republican, just don’t vote.



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