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Local diocese joins lawsuit against feds

June 5, 2012
The Mining Journal

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was submitted by the Catholic Diocese of Marquette.

The Catholic Diocese of Marquette is participating in a lawsuit filed recently by the Michigan Catholic Conference against the federal government.

Michigan Catholic Conference filed documents in U.S. District Court as a plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging the mandate established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that requires many faith-based employers to provide in their health benefit plans abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization and artificial contraception, all of which the Catholic Church finds morally objectionable.

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The nine-count lawsuit asserts violations of the First Amendment's Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses, the Administrative Procedures Act, and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

MCC, of which the Diocese of Marquette is a member, is the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in the state. In 1970, MCC began to provide employees of the state's seven arch/dioceses and their institutions with a medical insurance benefit under a self-insured plan.

Today, more than 10,000 Catholic institution employees and their dependents receive the medical benefit from the Michigan Catholic Conference. Therefore, through the MCC, the Church is in effect the employer and the insurance provider.

"I regret that the efforts of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to resolve this matter by asking the Administration to rescind its HHS mandate have proved unsuccessful," said Bishop Alexander K. Sample of the Catholic Diocese of Marquette and MCC board member. "Now we must take this battle to the courts. If we do not stand up for our religious liberty and rights of conscience, then I fear that this would open the door for further intrusion of government into the life of all religious institutions. We must do this for ourselves and to protect the rights of all citizens of this great land."

The Michigan Catholic Conference's lawsuit was filed at the same time several dozen Catholic entities across the country filed similar lawsuits citing, among others, the HHS mandate's excessive entanglement into the internal governance of religious organizations.



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