Letter from Cardinal Wuerl on Conscience Rights

December 22, 2011

Dear Friends,

       We have all heard much over the past few years about the cause of reforming health care in theUnited States.  Until now, federal law has never prevented Catholic institutions like the Archdiocese of Washington from providing for the needs of their employees with a health plan that is consistent with Catholic moral teachings.  However, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is currently considering adopting regulations that would threaten that freedom.

       Under the proposed HHS regulations, virtually all Catholic hospitals, elementary and secondary schools, colleges and universities, and charitable organizations would be required to provide coverage for sterilization procedures and contraception, including drugs that may induce abortions, unless they stop hiring and stop serving non-Catholics.  The regulations would place many Catholic employers in the untenable position of having to choose between violating the law and violating their conscience.

       This is an issue of fundamental, national importance.  Yesterday’s Washington Post and New York Times ran a letter published by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and signed by over four hundred prominent Catholic leaders calling on Congress to reconsider this unprecedented assault on religious liberty.  I encourage Catholics and others of good will to join the bishops.  No freedom is more precious and deserving of vigilance than this.              

        With prayerful best wishes, I am

                                                        Faithfully in Christ,

                                                        Donald Cardinal Wuerl 

                                                        Archbishop of Washington