HARTFORD – Archbishop Henry J. Mansell is again asking priests to address the Federal Health Care Insurance Mandate from the pulpit.
A letter dated March 6, which was addressed to priests and deacons, requests that they talk about the mandate and to urge parishioners to work toward overturning it.
"Various parishioners in the Archdiocese have written me to say that their priests and deacons are not speaking publicly about the Federal Healthcare Insurance Mandate. The reason for this may be that certain priests and deacons do not feel comfortable speaking about this issue," the archbishop’s letter said.
"Enclosed is a fact sheet concerning the mandate which should provide assistance," the letter went on. "If this mandate carries through, it means devastation for the Catholic Church and other religions. Your assistance will be very much appreciated."
On Jan. 20, the United States Department of Health and Human Services mandated that all employers provide free insurance coverage for sterilization, abortifacients and contraception at no cost to employees.
In a statement issued Jan. 30, Archbishop Mansell said that the mandate "runs clearly in the face of the Bill of Rights, providing in its First Amendment freedom of religion, going all the way back to December 15, 1791. Never before in the history of the United States has the federal government forced citizens to purchase directly what violates their beliefs."
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) renewed its call to legislative action on religious liberty after a revised mandate, released by the administration on Feb. 10, failed to resolve their moral concerns.
The fact sheet enclosed with the archbishop’s letter spells out how the health care insurance decision conflicts with religious freedom, describes what the USCCB is doing to publicize its cause, spells out the Church’s stance on artificial contraception and urges people to write to or call their senators and representatives to help overturn the mandate.
The fact sheet says that the USCCB will continue to educate the public on its Web site (usccb.org) and to suggest that parishes nationwide also work toward informing their members by addressing the issue from the pulpit and in bulletins.
Archbishop Mansell has spoken against the mandate repeatedly over the past weeks, not only at archdiocesan functions and liturgies but also through television and radio appearances and in his columns in The Catholic Transcript.