Urgent message from Bishop Ricken
January 26, 2012
Dear Pastors, Parish Directors and Administrators,
Last Friday the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued an unprecedented ruling that confirmed that virtually all private health plans will be required to include coverage for sterilizations and contraceptives, including abortion-inducing drugs. In spite of many appeals, the Administration also refused to broaden the religious exemption in these rules – an exemption limited to groups that hire and serve people primarily of their own faith. In other words, most churches and church-run institutions do not qualify because of their very openness in serving the common good of society and all people regardless of creed.
At the request of Bishop William E. Lori, Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty; and Cardinal-designate Timothy M. Dolan, President, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, I am asking that you please read my attached letter at all Masses this weekend, and post on your parish website, if possible. It would also be helpful to have copies available for distribution after the Masses and to publish the letter in next week’s bulletin. This is a serious matter, not just for now, but for other areas of religious freedom that could be adversely affected in the future.
I ask for your continued prayers as we work for justice in this critical area, united in faith as the Diocese of Green Bay.