Bishop Blaire rejects claims of division over mandate lawsuits
Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, Calif. has clarified that he is united with his fellow bishops in their efforts to oppose the threat to religious freedom posed by the federal contraception mandate.
“I stand solidly with my brother bishops in our common resolve to overturn the unacceptable intrusion of government into the life of the Church by the HHS Mandate,” said Bishop Blaire in a May 24 statement.
He explained that he wanted to “clarify some misunderstandings” related to his earlier comments about the mandate.
A May 22 article in America magazine quoted Bishop Blaire as having concerns about an announcement the day before that 43 Catholic dioceses and organizations around the U.S. were filing lawsuits against the federal government.
Filed in 12 different jurisdictions across the country, the lawsuits challenge a federal mandate that will require employers to offer health insurance plans covering contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs, even if doing so violates their consciences.
Bishops from every diocese in the U.S. have spoken out against the regulation, warning that it poses a serious threat to religious liberty and could force Catholic schools, hospitals and charitable organizations to close.
Several media outlets and commentators have used Bishop Blaire’s comments to suggest division among the bishops regarding the mandate.
However, Bishop Blaire said that his comments have been misunderstood. He stressed his full support for his brother bishops in their efforts to fight the mandate and protect religious freedom.
He noted that the bishops’ administrative committee issued a statement in March committing to fight the mandate through appeals to the Obama administration, Congress or the courts. [More]