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| Support “Conscience” Act Opposing HHS Mandate |
Dear Members of the University Community,
Americans of faith today face a major crisis and a unique opportunity. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued a mandate, the Patient Protective and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) requiring Catholic universities and other institutions to provide sterilization, abortifacients and contraception services that Catholics and many people of faith believe violates our constitutional religious liberty. We oppose the HHS mandate as an infringement of our freedom of conscience. While we will take vigorous steps to oppose this mandate, we realize that the mandate provides us with an opportunity to educate our community and rally support for our beliefs.
Our archbishop of Galveston-Houston, Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) have forcefully and clearly articulated why the present mandate violates our beliefs and we must take steps to rescind it. As a Catholic liberal arts institution, we have the joyful obligation to support our religious leaders and, at the same time, to educate our community on the fundamental issues. Cardinal DiNardo has asked us to contact our elected representatives in both houses of Congress to voice strong support for the “Respect for Rights of Conscience Act” (H.R. 1179, S.1467). This legislation, recently introduced in the Senate, will ensure that the requirements under PPACA will not be used to deny us a freedom of conscience that we have enjoyed under federal law until now.
We are blessed with a vibrant democracy, and we must act to make our voices heard in this crisis. We must urge our congressmen and senators to vote in favor of this legislation. We have listed the addresses of our local congressmen and state senators for your information. We can also voice our concerns online through the USCCB website at http://www.usccb.org/conscience or locally on www.archgh.org/Get-involved/Conscience-Protection.
A university such as ours also has the obligation to do all in its power to educate our campus and community on the impact of PPACA and on the overall threat to our liberties that the mandate represents. The present administration has abrogated the protection that the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States grants us: the freedom of religious liberty. Such an unjust mandate requires us to address its many implications in a thoughtful and thorough manner. Virtually all of our academic disciplines have a role to play in the education of our campus community.
We encourage our deans, heads of centers and leaders of affiliated organizations to integrate discussions on this topic into their classrooms, meetings and outreach activities. The USCCB website contains considerable information that examines the USCCB position on health care for those without it and on this assault on our freedom of conscience. At the university level, we will be hosting a distinguished panel led by Cardinal DiNardo to examine the issue and provide us with a deeper understanding of the ramifications and consequences of the mandate.
With our good Lord’s help we will change the PPACA mandate through legislation and use this opportunity to educate our campus and community on the danger to our constitutionally-guaranteed religious freedom.
With best wishes and confidence in our efforts,
Fr. Michael Buentello, CSB
Basilian Superior and Director of Campus Ministry
CSB Robert Ivany
Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison
284 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-4304
Senator John Cornyn
517 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Representative John Culberson
2352 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515