Archbishop Henry J. Mansell is interviewed by Channel 3 Eyewitness News anchor Dennis House on Feb. 16 for the Feb. 19 airing of "Face the State," which Mr. House moderates. (Photo courtesy of Dennis House)
HARTFORD – From long-scheduled public events to quickly arranged radio and television appearances, Archbishop Henry J. Mansell has spent the past weeks making it crystal clear that Catholics will not comply with the Obama administration’s health care mandate.
Since Jan. 20 and Feb. 10 announcements by the Obama administration concerning free coverage for women seeking contraceptive, sterilization or drug-induced abortive services, the archbishop has turned virtually every opportunity to get near a microphone into a platform for fighting the mandate.
During a nearly two-hour call-in radio show on WJMJ on Feb. 8, he called the HHS decision a "remarkably hostile" attack on religious freedom. Days later, he told an overflow crowd of nearly 300 donors and prospective donors to the Archbishop’s Annual Appeal at the Torrington Country Club in Goshen, "There is no way we could comply with that."
He has spoken along the same lines at other public events and during television and radio interviews since. He has been urging people to contact lawmakers to voice opposition to the mandate.
Referring to President Barack Obama’s announcement on Feb. 10 of a revision that allows religious employers not to offer such services to their employees but would compel insurance companies to do so, the archbishop told the people at the Goshen event that it was "nowhere near a compromise. It’s again a trick" that would cost hospitals and other religious employers millions of dollars, he said.
He said on the radio show Feb. 8, "Never before in the history of the United States has the federal government forced citizens to purchase directly what violates our belief. If this bedrock principle of United States history is violated, is permitted to go on, there’s no telling what can happen."
He said during a Feb. 15 interview on WTIC radio’s "State and Church" program, "Some would say that the war on religion is now formally declared."
As Archbshop Mansell has said from his first public comments on the controversy, which appeared in church bulletins and in the February issue of The Transcript, the bottom line is that the health care mandate is an attack on religious liberty that should concern every citizen of the United States.
Again and again, the archbishop has said that it is "shocking" that in the year 2012, religious liberty is under attack.
He has said that the so-called compromise announced on Feb. 10 is a meaningless move that will cost hospitals and other religious employers millions of dollars.
"One sixth of all the hospitals in the country are run under Catholic auspices," the archbishop said to the crowd at the Torrington Country Club. "We’d have to leave those. Think of all the colleges and all the universities we’d have to leave."
Catholic Charities alone employs some 77,000 people nationwide, he went on. "They [government leaders] have no idea the services they provide, without which society would not survive. Think of all the soup kitchens, all the food pantries, all the schools that are funded precisely because of the good will of our people, and they wanted [religious employers] to be paying for programs that are contrary to our fundamental beliefs. It’s a major, major violation of the fundamental principle going back to the Bill of Rights," he said.
The Church has vigorously opposed the health care mandate.
Asked during the Feb. 8 radio show how response has been, the archbishop said, "Very, strong, positive compliments everywhere we go and in the letters that come in, the phone calls that come in, the e-mails. People are very, very concerned that this could possibly happen."
On "Face the State" which aired on Feb. 19, the archbishop was highly critical of the mandate, telling moderator Dennis House that it "shows a terrible lack of feeling and a real knowledge of the issues."
The archbishop's statement on the mandate, which appeared in the February issue, may be read by clicking here.
His letter to parishioners, which includes contact information for lawmakers, is available here.