Friday, May 25, 2012

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On May 21, the Archdiocese of Washington led an action in federal court to challenge the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) unprecedented mandate that dramatically redefines religious ministry and requires religious organizations to provide coverage for drugs and services in direct conflict with their religious beliefs. Three affiliated organizations of the archdiocese and The Catholic University of America joined in this action, which was one of 12 lawsuits led nationwide, on behalf of 43 separate Catholic institutions.

The archdiocese’s complaint, accessible at, maintains that the HHS mandate violates the First Amendment and federal law by forcing religious organizations to sacrifice their beliefs in order to be able to continue their mission of serving all people in need. Specifically, the suit stems from the mandate’s new definition of what constitutes a religious organization. Contrary to long-standing precedent, the law exempts from the mandate only those religious institutions that primarily serve and employ individuals of their own faith. The work of Mother Teresa, Catholic Charities, our schools, and hospitals, which serve all—Catholic and non-Catholic alike—is indeed religious and an expression of our Catholic faith. Under the mandate, however, these organizations and ministries do not qualify as religious and are not eligible for the exemption. The HHS mandate forces these organizations to act in direct violation of their Catholic beliefs or face crippling fines.

+ This lawsuit is about the First Amendment, religious freedom and our ability to serve the public.

+ This lawsuit does not challenge women’s right to access to contraception or any employer’s right to provide and pay for it.

+ This lawsuit does challenge the government’s claim that it can force the Church to provide drugs and procedures that violate our religious beliefs.

What can you do?

- Get the facts.

- Pray for the protection of religious freedom.

- Speak up and share this with others.


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