The federal government’s new mandate — requiring Catholic charities, schools, universities and hospitals to supply employees with health insurance that covers birth control, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs — has become maybe the most controversial issue of our day.
I’ve been inspired by the unified reaction from our Catholic community. The bishops of almost every diocese in the country have spoken out. So have our largest Catholic institutions. Many individual Catholics — of every political opinion — have united in opposition.Other religious groups and many other Americans have also joined the protest — because this new mandate, of course, affects every employer in America.
As this debate continues, it is important to remember that the Catholic Church did not choose this conflict.The Church wants to be a partner with our neighbors and our government in building a more just and peaceful society — a society more worthy of the dignity of the human person who is the image of God. The Church’s mission in our society is to teach, heal and to care for others; to pray and to lead our neighbors to God.Our freedom to carry out our mission is totally threatened by this new mandate. But we are not just protecting our own parochial interests. As I have said, the issues at stake go far beyond the morality of contraception. This government mandate threatens the basic character of our society and puts every American’s freedom at risk.