FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 26, 2012
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OFFICE OF COMMUNICATION
603-669-3100, EXT. 185
Bishop Libasci Joins NH Catholic Institutions in Denouncing Obama Administration Mandate
(MANCHESTER, NH) Most Reverend Peter A. Libasci, Bishop of Manchester, and other leaders of Catholic institutions in New Hampshire are denouncing the recent announcement that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) intends to implement a rule that mandates that coverage for sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs, and contraception be included in virtually all health plans, regardless of whether the employer or the insured individual has a moral objection to such drugs and procedures. Bishop Libasci said the edict represents an untenable attack on religious liberty and a radical incursion into freedom of conscience.
“The HHS rule creates an alarming and serious concern that negatively impacts the Catholic Church in the United States directly, and that strikes at the fundamental right to religious liberty for all citizens of any faith,” said Bishop Libasci. “The federal government, which claims to be ‘of, by, and for the people,’ 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.”
The announcement from HHS includes a very narrow exemption for religious organizations that employ and serve those of the same faith. This exemption does not cover Catholic hospitals, colleges, and charitable organizations all of which would be forced to comply, or not offer health care coverage to employees or stop hiring and serving non-Catholics.
Dr. Joseph Pepe, interim CEO of Catholic Medical Center in Manchester said, “Catholic Medical Center employs over 2000 people and is a leading resource for health care in the community. If the Obama Administration does not rescind this rule, we will be forced to either provide coverage that is contrary to our organization’s ethical and religious commitment, or withhold healthcare insurance from our employees. Both options seem unfathomable.”
Thomas E. Blonski, President and CEO of New Hampshire Catholic Charities said, “As a Catholic organization, we feel strongly that healthcare should be accessible to every American. Yet, the United States government’s wanton disregard for the pro-life beliefs that we and other faiths share is not only tragic but truly un-American.”
Saint Anselm College’s President, Father Jonathan DeFelice, O.S.B., said he is horrified by the decision. “In a country and a state that values and respects individuals’ right to exercise their religious beliefs and live according to their conscience’s best lights, it is simply appalling to think that this mandate is anything other than an unprecedented incursion into freedom of conscience. If the Constitution grants, as it does, a priority of place to the Freedom of Religion, the Administration should respect it and allow an exemption for the beliefs of Catholics and persons of other faiths. If it fails to do so, we need to urgently call on the members of Congress to rescind this unthinkable mandate.”
More information on what the proposed HHS rule means is available at www.usccb.org/conscience.
The Diocese of Manchester is the Roman Catholic Church of New Hampshire, serving the needs of more than 285,000 Catholics. For more information, please visit www.catholicnh.org.