Dear Brother Priests, Deacons, Religious and Lay Faithful of the Diocese of Biloxi:
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued regulations that profoundly affect the Catholic Church and various other faith-based organizations in our country. HHS confirmed that virtually all private health insurance plans will be required to include coverage for sterilizations and contraceptives, including drugs that induce abortions. HHS went even further in requiring that these “healthcare services” be provided without co-pays or cost sharing.
When it is anticipated that religious groups and individuals might object to certain laws or policies based on moral grounds, the government ordinarily provides for an exemption. In this particular case, there is an exemption, but it is drawn so narrowly that it only applies to those who hire and serve only people of their own faith. That is to say, Catholic hospitals, Catholic colleges, Catholic social service agencies, and Catholic schools, among others, would not be exempted and would be forced to, mandated to pay for the provision of immoral activities.
Although it had been indicated a broader exemption would be provided, HHS instead has only moved the date of compliance to August 1, 2013, after the upcoming November elections.
Even those who do not agree with the Church’s moral teachings are finding it outrageous that the U.S. government would attempt to force the Church to pay for procedures and drugs that would violate our belief in the sacredness of human life.
I am shocked that the current federal Administration would so readily trample on the First Amendment to the Constitution. The ruling set forth by HHS officials undermines the religious liberty of all Americans and sets a frightening precedent. Never before in the history of our country has the federal government attempted to force citizens to directly purchase what violates their consciences, freely chosen tenets of faith. This obnoxious attack on our freedom of conscience must be resisted by us and ultimately rescinded by those who would deny us an inalienable right.
We cannot sit by in silence. We must be clear that we cannot comply and will not comply. I invite and encourage you to make known your opposition to the government’s misuse of its authority by every available legal recourse. Please contact your elected officials and let them know, that in our country, the government does not arrogate to itself a supremacy over our freedom to practice our religion.
Sincerely yours in Our Lord,
Most Reverend Roger P. Morin, D.D.
Bishop of Biloxi