Cardinal George Takes on the President

"We cannot—we will not—comply with this unjust law," Cardinal George writes of a new contraception rule

By Lisa Balde and Lauren Petty
|  Friday, Feb 10, 2012  |  Updated 8:46 PM CDT
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An issue on the campaign trail and in the White House has reached the Archdiocese of Chicago.

An issue on the campaign trail and in the White House has reached the Archdiocese of Chicago.

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An issue on the campaign trail and in the White House has reached the Archdiocese of Chicago.

Local Catholics will hear a letter from Cardinal Francis George this weekend that takes issue with a new directive from the president.

The Obama administration now requires religious groups to include health insurance for contraceptives, but Cardinal George writes in the letter, to be read during Mass across the city, that the move "strikes at the fundamental right to religious liberty for all citizens of any faith."

President Barack Obama announced an “accommodation” on Friday for religious-affiliated institutions opposed to a rule requiring them to provide birth control, according to msnbc.com.

Still Cardinal George wants Obama to know the local religious community won't back down.

"Unless the rule is overturned, we Catholics must be prepared either to violate our consciences, or to drop health coverage for our employees (and suffer the penalties for doing so)," Cardinal George writes in the letter, dated Feb. 5. "The Administration’s sole concession was to give our institutions one year to comply."

Last month the Department of Health and Human Services decided that almost all employers, including Catholic schools and hospitals, must offer health coverage including birth control and emergency contraception.

In the letter Cardinal George asks parishioners to pray that justice will prevail in the matter and to visit the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website to learn more about the mandate. 

"We cannot—we will not—comply with this unjust law," Cardinal George writes.

Those in favor of the administration's decision say it's a women's health issue. Those against it say it violates the First Amendment and freedom of religion.

Presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum have spoken against the mandate, and on Thursday a Catholic TV network sued to block the new rule.

Vice President Joe Biden has said the White House is working to address the Catholic Church's concerns and come to a resolution.

Until then, the fight continues. Cardinal George said a letter similar to his was sent by diocesan bishops around the country.

"I hope and trust [the Church] can count on this generation of Catholics," he writes.

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