The mandate that compels the provision of contraceptives, elective sterilizations and abortifacients such as Bella and Plan B, allows no exceptions except to transfer the means of providing them from the institutions to the insurers who will have to use the money from the same institutions to cover things that are contrary to the teachings of our faith and the consciences of true Catholics.
We are not seeking to scuttle any law. We are not seeking to reverse any progress made in providing sound and legitimate health care to all Americans. We are praying tonight that the narrow definition of religious institutions be changed. We insist that persons of faith have a right in conscience not to have to violate their consciences. We insist that the government cannot divide the Catholic Church into two: giving us freedom to worship and act inside the Church; but effectively telling us we have to leave our faith at the Church door and never let it be a norm for our lives or a guide for the good of society. We cannot accept this. We will not accept this.
Some try, and many have succeeded, in convincing our fellow citizens that this is all about contraception. They make a big deal that surveys show that Catholics make use of contraceptives. They caricature us bishops as old men who are stupidly obsessed with sex. Yet all we are saying is NO to a NO. Our teaching is based on a YES, a YES to life, to marriage, to the mother and to the child, a yes to the good of our society! But this mandate is dangerous not just because it imposes on us cooperation in things that are against our faith and moral teaching. It is dangerous because if the state can impose mandates against our faith and conscience in one matter of faith and life, of teaching and action, they can extend that to one imposition after another, a dictate against one religious group and every religious group, because they want conformity to their vision of a state-controlled society. In effect this means that we must accept what the state deems best for all even if religious freedom and religious belief are trampled underfoot by this kind of state control.