|8/9/2012 11:32:00 AM|
Fix this by year's end
Catholic News Service photo
An unidentified man July 31 leads a pilgrimage group from Hancock, Md., to Baltimore. The 100-mile trek showed support for religious freedom and called attention to the federal health care mandate requiring all employers, including most religious employe rs, to provide insurance coverage for sterilizations and contraceptives.
Congressional action defending religious freedom is long overdue. By the end of the year, federal lawmakers should pass legislation protecting institutions from being coerced into taking actions that violate their moral principles.
Some will argue that while worship deserves protection, taking a moral stand does not. But that's to impose a dangerous split between belief and practice that cannot stand if people of faith are to have integrity and true freedom. Ironically, religious organizations that live out faith by reaching out to all in need with health care and other humanitarian services are deemed "not religious enough" for an exemption.
This defies logic.
While the HHS mandate for contraceptive and sterilization coverage put this issue over the top, it's been simmering for years. The freedom to put faith into practice has faced threats from state immigration laws and requirements for pharmacists to prescribe objectionable drugs.
And now, the HHS mandate would require Catholic institutions to offer health plans covering contraception, sterilization and drugs that destroy human life in its earliest stages.
Our bishops continue to advocate for life-affirming health care for all, especially for poor and vulnerable people. The HHS mandate is most decidedly a step in the wrong direction.