Catholic Diocese Files Suit To Block HHS Mandate: Pursuit Of Religious Liberty Cited

By Jeff Neumeyer

May 21, 2012 Updated May 21, 2012 at 6:14 PM EDT

Fort Wayne, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) - Northeast Indiana's most prominent Catholic organizations on Monday filed suit in federal court, seeking to have the Obama Administration's new policy on contraceptive insurance coverage struck down.

The plaintiffs insist the legal action is about more than the issue of contraception.

The Bishop of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese says the goal is to protect religious liberty, and to tell the federal government to stop interfering with a key right under the Constitution.

Bishop Kevin Rhoades announced that the diocese, the University of Notre Dame, and other area Catholic organizations- including Catholic Charities- joined more than 35 other church-affiliated groups around the country in trying to shoot down the new U.S. Health and Human Services mandate.

The Catholic Church is upset, because it claims the new policy will force church entities to provide their employees with abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraceptive products that the church does not support, and do it at no cost to those workers.

" We are in deep solidarity in our conviction that the government is not authorized to force us to violate our consciences," says Bishop Rhoades.

Those on the other side of this debate, argue they've tried to make accommodations to the church.

Exemptions were put in place late last year for religious employers.

Bishop Rhoades claims the mandate so narrowly defines "religious employer", that it only includes houses of worship.

The University of Saint Francis and Saint Anne Home and Retirement Community, according to the bishop, would still have to provide contraceptive insurance coverage to employees, and he says the church simply can't stand for that.

President Obama maintains that the new policy is necessary to ensure that all women have access to affordable birth control services.

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