Bishop Robert W. Muench's Statement regarding HHS Mandate - April 23, 2012

 Dear Brothers,

As you know, since January there has been much attention to our efforts to address the very troubling Health and Human Services (HHS) coercive mandate requiring almost all private health plans to cover contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs. For the first time in our nation’s history, the federal government will force religious institutions to facilitate drugs and procedures contrary to our moral teaching. And it will purport to define which religious institutions are “religious enough” to merit an exemption.  Read more...

While our US Conference of Catholic Bishops has had to respond quickly to many urgent situations with the Administration, Congress and the media, we certainly want to be responsive to our people in the pews. The Conference has been working to develop a series of bulletin inserts to address a wide range of issues from our concerns over religious liberty to the Church’s teaching on sexuality and openness to new human life. Some of these will simply be catechetical and others will encourage parishioners to take some needed action. 

Our target is for the first bulletin insert (attached below) to reach parishes in the late-April to late-May timeframe. The focus is on “Religious Liberty, the Most Cherished of American Freedoms” and it encourages parishioners to send an email message to HHS, during their limited comment period. As we have done with previous nationwide bulletin inserts related to healthcare reform or the HHS mandate, these will be provided electronically. I understand this model has worked well as many parishes have printed these one-page inserts directly into their bulletins. All inserts will be provided in both English and Spanish and can be printed in B&W or color.

These resources will be complemented during the year with suggested homily notes, Prayers of the Faithful, and additional prayer resources that continue to be posted on the USCCB website www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/conscience-protection/resources-on-conscience-protection.cfm#prayers. On the topic of prayer, I want to express my gratitude for the wonderful response to the nationwide call to prayer. Thank you for encouraging your parishioners to participate in this prayer campaign. An order for prayer cards for protection of religious liberty has been placed today for distribution to all parishes in the next few weeks.

At its last meeting, the Presbyteral Council appointed a committee to make recommendations to the Council about how to implement the USCCB fourteen days from June 21 to July 4 ‘fortnight for freedom’, in which special events might be arranged to highlight the importance of defending our first freedom.

Yours in Christ,
Bishop Muench