Bishop Curtis Guillory S.V.D., D.D., is urging Southeast Texas Catholics to act now to express their disagreement with a recent mandate from the government. The mandate would require Catholic employers to violate Church teaching. U.S. Bishops are calling the ruling an attack on religious freedom guaranteed under the 1st amendment.
The bishop’s urgent message to his faithful comes in response to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s ruling on Jan. 21, 2012, mandating all employers, including Catholic employers and other faith-based organizations, to provide health coverage for contraceptives, sterilization and some abortion-inducing drugs.
In a column in the East Texas Catholic issued one day prior to the HHS ruling, Bishop Guillory had warned the faithful that Americans’ religious freedom could no longer be taken for granted. In a letter to read from the pulpit on the weekend of Feb. 4 and 5, Bishop Guillory says his deep concerns have become a reality. The bishop calls the ruling a violation of “our right to make choices based on our morals and the teaching of the Catholic Church.”
Bishop Guillory asks that the faithful educate themselves on the issue by visiting the U.S. bishop’s website at http://www.usccb.org and read the Urgent Action Alert and then to call the Capital at 202.224.3121 to protest the “attack on conscience rights and religious liberty.”
Many non-Catholic religious groups across the country have also voiced their disagreement with the ruling also calling it an attack on religious freedom. In his letter Bishop Guillory made clear that the protest is not an attempt to impose Catholic values, “We are not imposing our values on others, but we must have the freedom to live the message of Christ and the teachings of the Church.”
Bishop Guillory asked the faithful of the diocese to pray and fast “so that the hearts of those who mandated the provision which attacks religious freedom will be changed.”
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement Feb. 3 calling claims recently posted on the White House blog misleading. The USCCB statement calls the new post by the Administration an attempt to justify the widely criticized mandate for contraception and sterilization coverage. The USCCB statement lists each of the blog’s claims by the administration and then outlines the U.S. bishops’ response.
The Feb. 3 statement can also be accessed from the USCCB website. Bishop Guillory’s letter to Southeast Texas Catholics can be accessed from the home page of the diocese’s website.