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26 January 2012 Vol. I No. 18a

Notable and timely information arrived after Tuesday's eNews was distributed. For that reason, you are receiving a supplemental edition of the popular electronic newsletter.

Cathedral Flower Festival

Click here for information on this weekend's Cathedral Flower Festival. Sponsored by the Cathedral Arts Project, this popular annual winter tradition will focus on floral creations inspired by ritual clothing worn throughout the ages.

Twitter

Along with following the Archdiocese on Facebook, you can follow us on Twitter - @ArchOmaha.

Religious Liberties Threatened

On January 20th, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a stunning and extremely disappointing final rule mandating that contraception and sterilization be included at no cost to the insured in all health care plans. The very narrow religious exemption was unchanged from the interim final rule, only offering a year of "grace" to comply.

This means that most Catholic ministries would be compelled to provide and pay for "services" (i.e., sterilization and contraception, including some abortifacients) that are a clear violation of Catholic teaching. It rests on the appalling notion that the federal government can tell religious ministries what is religious. In this case, it says that a ministry is not religious if it serves or employs people who are not members of that religious body. For us, it is precisely our faith that calls us to "serve the least of these" without regard for their religious affiliation. We serve the poor, the hungry, the sick, the homeless, andeducate children "not because they are Catholic, but because we are." In short, the decision of the Administration is bad morality, bad policy and, for that matter, bad politics.

The threat to our religious liberties is very real and challenging. The government should not be forcing us to choose between putting our faith into action and violating our consciences. Likewise the Administration's action poses real threats to the Church's capacity to offer adequate health care coverage for those who serve in our charitable and educational ministries in ways that reflect our teaching and moral principles. This decision tries to force us to choose between these two principles. The rule would go into effect for religious employers in August 2013 and employers' new policies would have to be implemented by January 2014. The purpose of the year is supposedly to allow us time to comply, but in fact we have a year to reverse, repeal or change this unjust mandate.

Below are links to several statements, fact sheets and other materials that can assist you in helping to fix this injustice.

Links:

USCCB statetment on HHS Rule
Video of Cardinal-Designate Dolan, President of the USCCB, speaking about HHS rule
Catholic Relief Services' statement on HHS rule
Catholic Charities USA's statement on HHS rule
Michael Sean Winter's Distinctly Catholic blog commenting on HHS Rule
Washington Post editorial on HHS rule
USCCB Comments filed on proposed HHS rule issued in August 2011
USCCB fact sheet on HHS rule

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