Bishop Alexander K. Sample of the Catholic Diocese of Marquette distributed a letter to all Catholic parishes in the U.P. requesting that it be read at Masses this past weekend, January 28-29, 2012.
Bishop Sample’s letter was based on a model letter developed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in an effort to get the word out across the country on a ruling by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that the bishops regard as an assault on religious liberty.
On January 20, Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of HHS, announced that non-profit employers have one year to comply with the new rule that orders almost every employer and insurer in the country to provide sterilization and contraceptives, including some abortion-inducing drugs, in their health plans.
In his letter, Bishop Sample stated, “In so ruling, the Obama Administration has cast aside the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, denying to Catholics our Nation’s first and most fundamental freedom, that of religious liberty. And as a result, unless the rule is overturned, we Catholics will be compelled to either violate our consciences, or to drop health coverage for our employees (and suffer the penalties for doing so).”
Bishop Sample went on to say, “We cannot – we will not – comply with this unjust law. People of faith cannot be made second class citizens. We are already joined by our brothers and sisters of all faiths and many others of good will in this important effort to regain our religious freedom.”
The bishop called upon Upper Peninsula Catholics to take action. “First, as a community of faith we must commit ourselves to prayer and fasting that wisdom and justice may prevail, and religious liberty may be restored. Without God, we can do nothing; with God, nothing is impossible. Second, I would also recommend visiting www.usccb.org/conscience to learn more about this severe assault on religious liberty, and how to contact Congress in support of legislation that would reverse the Obama Administration’s decision.”
Bishop Sample’s letter can be read in its entirety by logging on to the diocesan website at: www.dioceseofmarquette.org. A link to the letter is provided under “Recent Headlines.”