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Catholic universities, others sue to protect religious liberty22 May

UPDATE, May 24: Archbishop Kurtz has sent a letter to priests of the Archdiocese of Louisville explaining the need for the lawsuits at this time:

These lawsuits have been filed to challenge an unprecedented attack by the federal government on one of America’s most cherished freedoms: the freedom to practice one’s religion without government interference. It is not about whether people have access to certain services; it is about whether the government may force religious institutions and individuals to facilitate and fund services that violate their religious beliefs. I am attaching a copy of an article by Cardinal Wuerl in the Washington Post that explains well the heart of this matter.

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On May 21, 43 Catholic entities filed 12 separate lawsuits to stop the government from forcing them to violate their consciences or stop providing health insurance to employees.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the following:

We have tried negotiation with the Administration and legislation with the Congress – and we’ll keep at it – but there’s still no fix. Time is running out, and our valuable ministries and fundamental rights hang in the balance, so we have to resort to the courts now. Though the Conference is not a party to the lawsuits, we applaud this courageous action by so many individual dioceses, charities, hospitals and schools across the nation, in coordination with the law firm of Jones Day. It is also a compelling display of the unity of the Church in defense of religious liberty. It’s also a great show of the diversity of the Church’s ministries that serve the common good and that are jeopardized by the mandate – ministries to the poor, the sick, and the uneducated, to people of any faith or no faith at all.

Notre Dame president Father John Jenkins defended the university’s lawsuit.

Let me say very clearly what this lawsuit is not about:  it is not about preventing women from having access to contraception, nor even about preventing the Government from providing such services. Many of our faculty, staff and students — both Catholic and non-Catholic — have made conscientious decisions to use contraceptives. As we assert the right to follow our conscience, we respect their right to follow theirs.

Fr. Jenkins also said what the lawsuit is about:

This filing is about the freedom of a religious organization to live its mission, and its significance goes well beyond any debate about contraceptives. For if we concede that the government can decide which religious organizations are sufficiently religious to be awarded the freedom to follow the principles that define their mission, then we have begun to walk down a path that ultimately leads to the undermining of those institutions.

Photo: courtesy of the website for the Archdiocese of New York

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