Cardinal Dolan Gives Update on Religious Freedom Battle
Welcomes Judge's Decision in Favor of Archdiocese
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NEW YORK, DEC. 13, 2012 (Zenit.org).- The archbishop of New York welcomed a victory in the legal battle to overturn the government mandate forcing Catholic institutions to pay for sterilization and abortion-causing drugs.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan blogged Wednesday about last week's decision in favor of the Archdiocese of New York in its suit against the Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate.
The cardinal noted media silence on the victory, contrasted with a New York Times article from October, when a judge in Missouri found for the Obama administration and dismissed a similar case brought by a private, for-profit, mining company, a decision that has since been temporarily blocked.
"Judge [Brian] Cogan’s decision last week turned back a motion by the administration to have our lawsuit dismissed," Cardinal Dolan wrote. "You’ll remember, perhaps, that back in May, the Archdiocese of New York, ArchCare, the Diocese of Rockville Centre, Catholic Charities of Rockville Centre, and Catholic Health Systems of Long Island filed a lawsuit in federal court in Brooklyn, one of more than two dozen similar lawsuits filed around the country that day. These lawsuits argue that the mandate from Health and Human Services would unconstitutionally presume to define the nature of the Church's ministry, and force religious employers to violate their conscience or face onerous fines for not providing services in our health insurance that are contrary to our consciences and faith."
The judge's decision allows the case to proceed so that it might be heard in court, though two co-plaintiffs, the Diocese of Rockville Centre and Catholic Charities of Rockville Centre, have been dismissed from the suit, as the judge found that their insurance plans would not presently be affected by the HHS mandate.
Cardinal Dolan said the decision is "significant" and noted the judge's finding that "there was very real possibility that we plaintiffs would 'face future injuries stemming from their forced choice between incurring fines or acting in violation of their religious beliefs.'"
The prelate continued: "And what of the administration's contention that the suit should be dismissed because they were going to change the HHS mandate to address the concerns of religious employers? As Judge Cogan wrote, '… the First Amendment does not require citizens to accept assurances from the government that, if the government later determines it has made a misstep, it will take ameliorative action. There is no, "Trust us, changes are coming" clause in the Constitution.'"
Cardinal Dolan admitted that there is a long road ahead, and reiterated hope that the HHS mandate will change and provide a true religious exemption.
"Until then," he concluded, "we will continue to seek justice in the courts. Thanks to last week's decision in Federal Court in Brooklyn, it looks like we will have that chance. We'll keep you posted."
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On the Net:
Full text: http://blog.archny.org/index.php/hhs-mandate-decision/