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?
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?
True, legitimate and rightful religious freedom is ever vulnerable to those who would usurp it.
The right to live in religious freedom was at the very heart of the birth of our own country. Our founders recognized that humans exist only insofar as they are in relation to God. Mindful of this foundational truth, they sought to establish a just and moral nation fully in harmony with Him.
BALTIMORE -- During their annual three-day fall assembly in Baltimore, the U.S. bishops' discussed threats to religious liberty, efforts to support traditional marriage and the need to keep a close eye on health care issues.
On the first day of the Nov. 14-16 meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops they voted to establish a permanent Subcommittee on Health Care Issues under the jurisdiction of their Committee on Doctrine.
WASHINGTON -- Officials with the Catholic Campaign for Human Development rebutted a report that 55 agencies funded by the U.S. bishops' anti-poverty program in 2010-11 were in conflict with Church teaching.
Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, Calif., Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, Calif., and Ralph McCloud, CCHD executive director, said the charges leveled in an American Life League study against all but one of the agencies were unfounded.