No 'Pork Mandate,' Bishop Lori Tells Congress

Pleas to Senate for Protection

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WASHINGTON, D.C., FEB. 16, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Opposition from the Catholic Church to the new regulations by the Health and Human Services department on insurance coverage for contraceptives and sterilization continues.

In one of the latest salvos Bishop William Lori, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), appeared before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

In his testimony today, he likened the imposition on Catholic institutions to include insurance coverage for contraception and sterilization to mandating that all Jewish delis should serve pork.

People recognize, he said that "it is absurd for someone to come into a kosher deli and demand a ham sandwich." Moreover, "it is downright surreal to apply this coercive power when the customer can get the same sandwich cheaply, or even free, just a few doors down."

Meanwhile, just the day before the chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the USCCB, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, wrote a letter to all Senate members urging them to support legislation to give protection to conscience rights.

He explained that the "Respect for Rights of Conscience Act" (S. 1467) is urgently needed due to the new regulations issued by the Department of Health and Human Services.

"The Administration's rule makes no provision for the rights of insurers, even religiously affiliated insurers, but places responsibility for enforcing the mandate more squarely than ever on their shoulders. This is a radical departure from current law, under which a health plan that excludes contraception can be sold even to federal employees if the carrier has any religious objection to such coverage," the letter explained.

"If the needless dispute over this issue were resolved through this legislation, Congress and the Administration could return to the most pressing of all the real problems -- the fact that many millions of Americans still lack basic coverage for health care that supports and sustains life," Cardinal DiNardo said.

Meanwhile, Thomas Peters, the blogger following the number of bishops who have spoken out publicly about the HHS mandate reported today that every single prelate leading a diocese in the United States has now made a public statement. His blog lists a group of 30 Catholic institutions that have already made a statement as well.

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On the Net:

Full text of Bishop Lori's testimony: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/upload/lori-testimony-for-oversight-on-religious-freedom-2012-02-16.pdf

Cardinal DiNardo's Letter: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/conscience-protection/upload/DearSenatorfeb151.pdf