Reform of U.S. nuns group an opportunity for dialogue, archbishop says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A newly announced reform of an association of women's religious congregations in the U.S. offers the sisters and their bishops an opportunity to communicate and work together more closely, said the archbishop named by the Vatican to oversee the reform process.

Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle spoke to Catholic News Service in Rome April 22, a day after arriving for a periodic "ad limina" visit to the Vatican.

Bishops may appeal ruling on trafficking contract

WASHINGTON -- Religiously based restrictions on reproductive health services for victims of human trafficking cannot be imposed by the Department of Health and Human Services, a federal judge has ruled.

By delegating to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops the decision on which services to offer or not offer to trafficking victims, HHS violated the Establishment Clause of the Constitution, Judge Richard G. Stearns ruled March 23 in the case filed by the American Civil Liberties Union in federal court in Massachusetts.

A USCCB spokeswoman called the ruling a disappointment March 26.

More 'confusion than clarity' about HHS mandate, Cardinal Dolan says

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said March 1 that there is more "confusion than clarity" in the revised federal contraceptive mandate and urged U.S. bishops to continue their fight against "mandates that r equire us to violate our moral convictions." The archbishop of New York is pictured during the November 2011 meeting of the U.S. bishops' conference in Baltimore.

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said there is more "confusion than clarity" in the revised federal contraceptive mandate.

In a March 1 blog entry on the New York archdiocesan website, the cardinal said the U.S. bishops will "keep up advocacy and education on the issue" and "continue to seek a rescinding of the suffocating mandates that require us to violate our moral convictions."

Get in the know: A Q & A on the HHS health care mandate

Edward Hogan, director of the archdiocesan Paul VI Pontifical Institute, has developed the following Q&A on the HHS health care mandate.

Q. Many Catholics believe that the Church's teaching on conscience means that every individual must follow his or her own conscience, and respect others' right to do the same. In opposing the HHS mandate, aren't the bishops contradicting that teaching, and imposing on the conscience of others?

Bishops: mandate violates conscience rights, a Q&A

How important is the right of conscience in American tradition?

It has always been of paramount importance: "No provision in our Constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience against the enterprises of the civil authority" (Thomas Jefferson, 1809).

In the past, has the federal government respected conscientious objections to procedures such as sterilization that may violate religious beliefs or moral convictions?

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