By Oswald Sobrino, J.D.; M.A. (Econ.); M.A. (Theo.); M.L. (Master of Latin), doctoral student, University of Florida.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Religious Liberty

English: statue of liberty from staten island ...
English: statue of liberty from staten island ferry (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Dear Friends in Christ:

A lawsuit was filed in federal court today, Monday, May 21, by the Michigan Catholic Conference in an attempt to prevent the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from enforcing what has come to be known as the health care mandate.  After efforts to work with the Administration, and then the Congress, failed to adequately address the constitutional and religious freedom deficiencies in the mandate, the Board of Directors of the Conference voted unanimously to pursue this matter through the courts.  

The mandate requires faith-based employers, such as the Michigan Catholic Conference, to provide abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization and artificial contraceptives, and, as such, uniquely positions our state Conference to argue its case.  The Conference currently provides medical benefits to more than 1,100 Catholic institutions and approximately 10,000 employees.

The issue here is not about contraception.  The issue is about religious freedom; it is an affront to our constitutional guarantees. The church does not desire to impose its values on society.  Rather, it’s the government seeking to impose its views upon the church.  That is where the conflict lies.  

The Conference is one of 43 institutions across the country to have filed suit today against the mandate.  Additional details and commentary are posted on websites of the Detroit Archdiocese and the Michigan Catholic Conference.   Among the questions you or parishioners might have about this effort is the cost.   A national law firm, Jones Day, had pre-existing relationships with many of the plaintiffs.  As discussions with those plaintiffs progressed, it became clear that there were many more entities interested in filing lawsuits as well. Given the importance of this issue, and the fact that all of the plaintiffs were non-profit organizations, Jones Day agreed to handle this matter on a pro bono basis. For that we are most grateful.  

If and when there are major developments in the case, I will keep you updated.  In the meantime, please keep those who are working on our behalf in your prayers. 

Defending our religious liberties has never been more challenging.  The stakes are high.  Let me conclude with a reminder of two events coming next month: the Stand Up for Religious Liberty Rally at noon on Friday, June 8, in front of the McNamara Federal Building in Detroit (I am among the many speakers), and the Fortnight for Freedom, a 14-day period of prayer, education, and action in support of religious freedom beginning June 21.
 
Sincerely yours in Christ,
 
The Most Reverend Allen H. Vigneron
Archbishop of Detroit

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