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After contraception controversy, Catholic Church announces 'religious freedom' campaign
The American Catholic bishops.
April 12th, 2012
05:25 PM ET

After contraception controversy, Catholic Church announces 'religious freedom' campaign

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - The Roman Catholic Church announced a major campaign Thursday aimed at bringing attention to what it said were growing threats to religious liberty in the United States, including the pending White House rule requiring health insurance companies to provide free contraceptive coverage to employees of Catholic organizations.

An official with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said the initiative would stretch out over the course of a few years and that it would include everything from encouraging priests to address religious liberty concerns in church to sending inserts for church bulletins.

“Religious liberty is under attack, both at home and abroad,” the American bishops said in a new document titled “Our first, most cherished freedom.”

Compared to other Catholic communications campaigns, “This is bigger in that it’s not a one-time thing, not aiming for a specific Sunday” said Sister Mary Ann Walsh, the communications director for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. “It’s going to be extensive and it’s going to be occurring over a few years.”

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The Catholic bishops say a proposed White House rule connected to the Affordable Care Act requiring health insurers to provide free contraception coverage forces the church to fund an activity it opposes for religious reasons. The White House tweaked an earlier version of the rule that required employers, rather than insurance companies, to pay for contraceptive coverage, mollifying some Catholic groups who objected to Catholic colleges and hospitals having to fund contraception coverage.

But the bishops said the so-called White House compromise didn’t go far enough.

In their Thursday document, the bishops also said that a handful of American states and municipalities have driven Catholic foster care and adoption services out of business because Catholic charities refused to place children with gay couples or unmarried straight couples.

The document also said that the federal government recently revised its contract with the Catholic Church’s Migration and Refugee Services to require it to provide or refer women to contraceptive and abortion services, in violation of Catholic teaching.

“Religious liberty is not only about our ability to go to Mass on Sunday or pray the Rosary at home,” the bishops said in a Thursday statement. “It is about whether we can make our contribution to the common good of all Americans. Can we do the good works our faith calls us to do, without having to compromise that very same faith?”

“This is not a Catholic issue,” the statement said. “This is not a Jewish issue. This is not an Orthodox, Mormon or Muslim issue. It is an American issue.”

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church

soundoff (2,540 Responses)
  1. Rev. Rick

    And while they are pushing for all this religious liberty, be sure to allow priests to marry and allow women to be ordained. I think they are about to open their own can of worms with this push. It's religious liberty as long as they (the Catholic Church) get to define what religious liberty is.

    April 13, 2012 at 9:23 am |
    • TownC

      Not allowing priests to marry or the ordination of women is strictly a church issue since it does not take away anyone's civil rights. If people don't like these policies they are welcome to leave the church.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:27 am |
    • Rev. Rick

      So why not allow birth control to be offered by insurance? If a woman is a good Catholic, surely she can continue to think for herself and refuse it. I am a former Catholic and I understand the issues.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:39 am |
  2. hoc

    It's brilliant to listen to 80 year old Irish guys tell people about birth control and abortion.... they don't have a clue.

    April 13, 2012 at 9:23 am |
    • Rev. Rick

      Agreed. This is one campaign they will wish they had left in the idea box.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:29 am |
    • TownC

      Everyone has a right to their opinion and to express it...even 80 year old religious Irish guys.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:32 am |
    • mary smith

      any age is brilliant when you have the Holy Spirit on your side, jerk.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:33 am |
    • Mick

      @ Mary Smith...You're quite the brilliant debater. Call someone an insulting name, then back it up with an invisible bird.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:03 am |
  3. TownC

    It's amazing that the current administration touts separation of church and state and then imposes its will upon the church. This administration wants to control every aspect of our lives.

    April 13, 2012 at 9:20 am |
    • Drumcode

      This administration? How about ANY administration? Term after term it's getting worse, no matter who the skipper is.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:24 am |
    • Lori

      the catholic church does not get to pick and choose what it will contriube to society in the US in the form of taxpayer dollars. There are lots of issues that I have concerning ethical/moral deliberations, but most don't choose to wrap it in the cloth of the pope and call it religious rights. For instance, it is against my ethics to pay for the trauma the catholic spiritual leaders have imposed on small male children and their resulting mental illnesses and that ripple effect.

      Seems to me not too long ago, the cc was telling Rome that American catholics would not give up birth control in any realistic measure. Now the Amierican bishops have a 360 on the issue. What changed?

      April 13, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
  4. There never was a god

    lol anything to take the focus off of their systematic FU(KING of little boys! maybe they oughta figure that out first. course when you intentionally bounce a pedophile around to different churches and wont release any info about him so that he or she can be watched that tells us you intentions all along

    April 13, 2012 at 9:18 am |
    • Chris

      re·li·gion noun \ri-'li-j?n\
      A mass human psychosis that usually results in participants believing in incredibly silly crap and acting like total retards.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:20 am |
  5. Page Thomas

    I'm amazed that the church is now very political, why is that? They should stick to the job at hand, the reason they joined the church to begin with, stop being so political.

    April 13, 2012 at 9:16 am |
    • Drumcode

      If they want to be involved in Politics, they should start paying taxes.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:18 am |
    • Furious Styles

      @Page, the church has always been political, you'd be surprised if you did some checking into history. You'll find that they've been at it for a VERY long time.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:19 am |
    • TownC

      They will stop being political when politicians leave them alone.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:22 am |
  6. ForGoodOfAll

    Organized religion causes more hate and division than peace and unification.

    April 13, 2012 at 9:16 am |
  7. My biggest wish - that i hope not come true

    USA become muslim country and sharia is the law – and all this big mouth – liberal/atheis will taste their own medecine

    April 13, 2012 at 9:14 am |
    • Drumcode

      Right. The biggest problem in this whole picture is well, the religious lunatics. You people divide yourselfs on daily basis, if there was no religion, there would be no religion related problems within the society.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:21 am |
    • jay

      I don't think you understand what the word 'wish' means.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:27 am |
  8. Old Bill

    If a church wants to run commercial enterprises like hospitals, truck lines, daycare centers and whatever they should not only have to comply totally with government requirements the same as every other commercial enterprise, but they should also lose their tax exempt status. It is not a level playing field in any sense of the word. Where I live the church run hospitals have a monopoly and unfairly compete with non-religious hospitals. Because they do not pay taxes, I must make up for it by paying more taxes. Being taxed to subsidize the catholic church or any other church does not sit well with me. The time has come to end this unfair situation.

    April 13, 2012 at 9:14 am |
    • ForGoodOfAll

      I agree Old Bill.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:17 am |
    • closet atheist

      Bingo!! Problem is, I promise that not one politician will ever stick his/her neck out on this issue, despite the billions that will be saved by the taxpayers. Too much religious fervor these days.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:23 am |
    • Steve

      DIDO

      April 13, 2012 at 9:28 am |
  9. Drumcode

    Lepiej z pizdy nie wychodzic niz katolem sie urodzic.

    April 13, 2012 at 9:13 am |
  10. FLIndependent

    This is taking things way too far now by the Catholic Church. I'm Catholic and this just makes me run further away from the Church as they are now sticking their noses where it doesn't belong. If they want to run businesses, then they need to abide by the law or else pay taxes. As far as not wanting to teach woman about birth control but also stating they want to help the world community, what better way to control over-population and widespread poverty than to teach about b.c. I just don't get the Catholic Church sometimes and I believe what they are doing is going to backfire. There is no war on religious freedom – every American can practice according to what they believe. The contraception issue is way overblown, especially since most Catholic women use it.

    April 13, 2012 at 9:12 am |
    • ForGoodOfAll

      As an ex-Catholic, I couldn't agree more. Religion is the root cause of the bickering and hatred among fellow human beings. Religion also impedes progressive legislation for the health and wellbeing of all citizens.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:22 am |
    • mary smith

      boy are YOU MISTAKEN, child.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:28 am |
  11. Lori

    what's next on the vatican's agenda after birth control since this is to be an all out effort requiring years of battle?
    Do YOU really think this will stop at birth control after several years if these deviants win?
    What's next a**holes? or more accurately, "Whose next"?

    April 13, 2012 at 9:11 am |
    • There never was a god

      next will be the freedom to get at your children, theyll claim its divine right to hump boys

      April 13, 2012 at 9:14 am |
  12. bob139

    It's funny. Growing up, I was always impressed, even intimidated a little, by the sight of all those bishops together (as in your photo). Now, as an adult, I see a bunch of pompous, closed minded, provincial, men – vulnerable to the same human weaknesses as all other humans. Certainly, no better in character than the people whom they oppose or even condemn.

    April 13, 2012 at 9:10 am |
    • ForGoodOfAll

      Amen to that.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:24 am |
    • mary smith

      too bad, kid, your vision is blurred.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:29 am |
  13. scientificpoetry

    The Catholic church is so out of touch with reality it is actually laughable now. As a proud "ex-catholic" I get a belly laugh every time I see articles such as this one. A bunch of pedophiles in crimson and black trying to take on issues. Religion is a disease that seems to resists all science. Thankfully... common sense is slowly creeping in and killing it. It may not die in my lifetime – but it is dying. This article really just shows the Catholic church desparately trying to seem relavant. Guess what gentlemen... you're not relavent anymore. The vast majority of Catholics use contraception, eat meat on Fridays during Lent, etc. – each one of you are delusional fools...

    April 13, 2012 at 9:10 am |
    • ForGoodOfAll

      As an ex-Catholic myself, I agree with you completely!

      April 13, 2012 at 9:27 am |
    • mary smith

      laugh now, burn later. Go ahead.... may I serve you a drink?

      April 13, 2012 at 9:30 am |
  14. Megaweapon

    All religions are equally sublime to the ignorant, useful to the politician, and ridiculous to the philosopher. – Lucretius (94 BC – 49 BC)

    April 13, 2012 at 9:08 am |
    • closet atheist

      If this is a real quote, it's pretty awesome.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:27 am |
    • ForGoodOfAll

      You 'speaketh' the truth!

      April 13, 2012 at 9:29 am |
    • mary smith

      it's actually pretty stupid.... empty.... plain DUMB.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:36 am |
  15. cantoxiv

    Santorum withdrew because the evangelical right pulled back. This catholic campaign will enjoy less support and eventually Peter out. Pun intended...

    April 13, 2012 at 9:07 am |
  16. I'm tired arguing - to Atheist and Theist

    This is my BEST IDEA:

    an ATHEIST and THEIST are debating in a room and suddenly bomb explode in that room- NO MORE DEBATING AND THEY KNOW THE TRUTH.

    so just be patient you will know soon that you thought – all of us will die: Christoper Hitchens and Mother Teresa now knows the truth your time will come too.

    Peace be with u

    Can I get AMEN BROTHER

    April 13, 2012 at 9:05 am |
    • closet atheist

      True. BUT... some people who are questioning there faith come to comment boards like this. Hopefully, some of the banter causes them to think more deeply about exactly what they believe and why. Let logic prevail....

      April 13, 2012 at 9:29 am |
    • closet atheist

      oops... "their"....

      April 13, 2012 at 9:29 am |
    • maggie

      AMEN brother ... 🙂

      April 13, 2012 at 9:33 am |
  17. citizenmn

    The biggest threat to Christianity is the Catholic church.

    April 13, 2012 at 9:05 am |
    • The biggest threat to Christianity

      Muslim

      Second biggest threat: any individual who think they received idea from Holy Spririt and create a new church – we already have more than 3000 denomination.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:09 am |
    • mary smith

      Keep at it. Christ was slapped, spat at, crowned with thorns, nailed to a cross for YOU, brother. Can't wait to see your expression at the last day when you wake up... that is if you haven't saved yourself beforehand from damnation. You're pretty well headed that wasy. As a matter of fact you've got your hand on the door ready to fall in. take care, brother. No one can help you but yourself! Good luck, keep warm and well fed.....

      April 13, 2012 at 9:39 am |
  18. Bob Lewis

    The irony is THEY are the threat. Religion is the enemy of spirituality. It's all about dogma, ritual, hierarchy, mythology and politics. Spirituality is the immediate and personal. Look at this picture. Why do you need these guys in fancy costumes as middlemen to commune with God, if that's your belief? They don't know anything more than you do. Get rid of churches and go directly to the source.

    April 13, 2012 at 9:02 am |
    • mary smith

      It's all about FAITH, that's why. Simple as that.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:43 am |
  19. mandarax

    Where the heII does the Catholic church get off talking down to people about morality and good works? Get out of your parishioners bedrooms and stop being a roadblock to modern healthcare access. Get your own vile house in order before speaking condescendingly to the rest of us.

    April 13, 2012 at 9:01 am |
    • Denise

      Indeed. Fortunately, we are seeing the final decline of the Catholic church (I hope).

      April 13, 2012 at 9:03 am |
    • closet atheist

      It's hard to kill off the catholic church because of all the "hell-speak"... people are too scared NOT to believe. It's a good trick.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:36 am |
    • mary smith

      Thank God not too many think like you, sir.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:44 am |
  20. Dystopiax

    Some history. After the Lateran Treaty was concluded with Italy, some 26 million dollars was deposited to the Vatican Bank. The investment of this windfall began immediately. Under the husbandry of someone named Nogara (?) the fund grew to billions. Retrospective analysis – published in popular books – showed that a chunk of the Vatican Bank's increase came from investment in European pharmaceutical giants – whose product mainstay was contraception pessaries. Isn't history interesting?

    April 13, 2012 at 9:01 am |
    • Denise

      Interesting, ironic, and very funny. I'll research that a bit.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:04 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.