Diocese defends religious liberty
Suit filed in U.S. District Court
FORT WAYNE, INDIANA — On May 21st, the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Catholic Charities of the diocese, Saint Anne Home and Retirement Community, Franciscan Alliance, the University of Saint Francis, and Our Sunday Visitor filed a lawsuit against various government defendants, seeking justice from U.S. District Court (Northern District of Indiana, Fort Wayne Division). The University of Notre Dame has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court (Northern District of Indiana, South Bend Division). We are in deep solidarity in our conviction that the government is not authorized to force us to violate our consciences, by making us provide, pay for and/or facilitate “services” that are contrary to our religious beliefs. “American history and tradition, embodied in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and Religious Freedom Restoration Act, protect religious entities from such overbearing and oppressive governmental action.”
Religious freedom, protected in the U.S. Constitution and other laws and statutes, is rooted in the dignity of every human person. It is inherent in our humanity, a God-given right. It is a cornerstone of basic human rights and is necessary for the flourishing of a just society. We are obliged to defend it for ourselves and for others. We are asking in this lawsuit that this right be respected by our government.
The government has no place defining “religious employer” so narrowly that it only includes houses of worship. This reduces the freedom of religion to the freedom of worship. Religious liberty is about witness and action, as well as worship. The Health and Human Services exemption excludes most Catholic hospitals, schools, universities, and social service providers. They are “not religious enough,” according to the HHS mandate, to qualify for the exemption. Our diocese carries out our mission of service through our diocesan offices, parishes and schools, and through the work of our affiliated ministries. All of these institutions are guided by Catholic beliefs.
Today we ask people of all faith traditions, and all people of conscience to join us in our efforts to restore religious liberty to its rightful place: a cornerstone of our country, and our first, most cherished liberty.
Diocesan Press Release (PDF)
FWSB Diocese Litigation Complaint (PDF)
Statement from Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades (PDF)
Bishop Rhoades’ Column for Todays Catholic News (PDF)
USCCB statement on Religious Liberty (PDF)