HHS decision stifles religious freedom


Bishop Gerald Barnes

  By Bishop Gerald Barnes
Diocese of San Bernardino

It was announced last week by the United States Department of Health and Human Services that religious institutions will be required under new healthcare law to provide their employees with drugs and procedures that are in opposition to our belief as Roman Catholics in the sanctity of all human life. The decision, as we understand it, puts our Catholic hospitals, schools and public ministries in the very difficult position of having to violate their consciences in order to comply with the law. This appears to run counter to the ideal of religious freedom that has always been present in our nation. Fortunately, we have the opportunity to make our voices heard when we see injustice in laws and public policies. In fact, our faith calls us to be Faithful Citizens and stand up for the values of the Gospel today. We can do that, in this case, by contacting our federal elected leaders and communicating our concern about this violation of conscience protection and religious liberty. The Catholic Legislative Network (found at www.cacatholic.org) will be providing specific information about advocacy efforts on this issue. I also ask you to pray with me that the dignity of every human person is honored and protected not only in this issue but in all of the decisions that face our elected leaders.

May God bless you.