Archdiocese of New York Files Federal Lawsuit Against HHS Mandate

Today, the Archdiocese of New York filed a federal lawsuit seeking to block the recent Health and Human Services mandate. I would like to share with you the following press release that the Archdiocese of New York issued this morning.


In order to protect our religious liberties from unwarranted and unprecedented government intrusion, the Archdiocese of New York has filed suit in federal court today seeking to block the recent Health and Human Services mandate that unconstitutionally attempts to define the nature of the Church’s religious ministry and would force religious employers to violate their consciences. The Diocese of Rockville Centre has joined in the lawsuit.

Named as defendants in the suit are the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Labor, and the U.S. Department of the Treasury.  The lawsuit was filed at federal court in Brooklyn.  Other lawsuits also objecting to the HHS mandate were filed today in federal district courts throughout the nation by other Catholic (arch)dioceses, institutions and organizations.

Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York, said about the lawsuits filed in New York and elsewhere, “We have tried negotiation with the Administration and legislation with the Congress, — and will keep at it — and there’s still no fix. Time is running out, and our precious ministries and fundamental rights hang in the balance, so we have to resort to the courts now.”

The Archdiocese of New York has filed this suit because the federal government is requiring religious organizations, under penalty of law, to provide, pay for, and/or facilitate access to services that are contrary to their deeply held and constitutionally-protected religious beliefs.

An equally grave concern is that while the government has recognized a religious exemption to these mandates, it is so narrowly worded that many – if not most – religious institutions such as Catholic hospitals, nursing homes, schools, soup kitchens, and homeless shelters do not qualify for it.  Incredibly, under the government’s exemption standard, these Catholic institutions would not qualify because they do not discriminate against non-Catholics who might come to them seeking assistance.  Nor do they discriminate against non-Catholics in their hiring practices.  Further, in order to qualify for an exemption, a religious institution must submit to an invasive federal government inquiry into its religious beliefs and practices, conferring powers on government that are forbidden by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.  Specifically, for an institution to know whether it is religious enough to meet the government’s exemption standard, it must submit to an investigation whereby federal employees determine the religion of those employed and served by the entity, whether their beliefs are the same as the institution, and whether the institution hires and serves “primarily” those of the same beliefs.

For the Archdiocese of New York and its institutions, this situation is of particular concern since we have been subjected for nearly a decade to a mandate by New York State to provide services that are contrary to our religious beliefs.

In 2002, the New York State Catholic Conference objected to state legislation that directed Catholic institutions providing prescription drug coverage through standard commercial insurance policies to include coverage for contraceptive drugs and devices, which are proscribed according to Catholic teaching.  The Conference had enthusiastically supported major components of this legislation designed to ensure and expand healthcare for women, but sought to remove the objectionable provisions.  The legislation passed and was signed into law without the Conference’s recommended amendments.  Regrettably, the law includes an intrusively narrow definition of religious institutions similar to that in the current federal HHS mandates.

Suit was brought against the State of New York’s law on the basis of this objectionable requirement.  The case was lost, leaving Catholic institutions with commercial insurance in the regrettable position of either violating their religious conscience or canceling employee benefits. Those entities that chose to retain commercial plans have only done so “under protest.”

The dilemma facing Catholics institutions in the State of New York has now, under the HHS mandate, become a national issue. The current federal lawsuit attempts to remedy this injustice on a federal judicial level in a way that was unattainable on the New York State level.


small image of PDF IconClick here to read a copy of the lawsuit filed.

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19 Responses to “Archdiocese of New York Files Federal Lawsuit Against HHS Mandate”

  1. John says:

    God bless and good luck in this fight for our religious freedom!

  2. Mary says:

    USCCB: As a body, you did not recognize the evil that the Democrat party has become. You should have seen it coming when the Democrats became the party of abortion. You should have seen it coming when Obama decided not to support the Defense of Marriage Act. You should have seen it coming when he homosexualized the military and now wants chaplains to marry men and men. You should have seen it coming when he promised universal healthcare with the lie that you can keep your healthcare if you like it. It is sinful, how you bought into his hope and change deceits. But I think you have seen it now.

    Shepherds, no more silence, please.

    I suggest you instruct the sheep what NOT to vote for on Nov. 6. This way you can avoid mentioning parties or people by name. Just make a list of what a Catholic CANNOT vote for under penalty of losing their souls. Preach the hard truth. God love you.

  3. I just want to say that I agree and cheer everything that Cardinal Dolan is doing!! May God bless you Your Eminence!!

    Joe Damore

  4. Laura says:

    *applause, applause*

    I know no one wanted it to come to this, but Cardinal, I totally support this action. I also appreciate that you took some time to think about all possible responses. You and all the Bishops have a very difficult job these days. Thank you for protecting us. Your ability to keep the faith (literally) helps us all to do the same.

  5. Venera Spadaro says:

    When is the Catholic Church going to stop blaming the government for everything that is not in their “definition of being Christian”!!!!!!!!!!! We want all people to be free to do what is their right as a free human being, living in a free nation. The church chooses to close schools and claim that there is a loss of religion, try coming into the 21st century and there would be more of a sense of religion. Parishes only gather youth until the sacraments are completed and then both parent and child disappear from the Mass. We are left with elderly people attending Mass on a regular basis. When I hear statements, like, oh, we will not be able to afford to provide services to the poor…then you are definitely not “sacrificing” enough… do not worry where your next meal will be coming from, or healthcare or where you will sleep…maybe if you did, then you would be able to “find” the extra monies needed to offer services to the needy…..oh, at least 96% of Catholics use birth control….so let it go and leave OBAMA alone, he is what is great for this country………
    “not being able to continue services to the poor” for

  6. Irwin says:

    Thank You to ALL the CATHOLIC plaintiffs! You are giving us a voice against HHS & Sebelius/Obama! Fight on!

  7. Susan Murphy says:

    Dear Cardinal Dolan: Really?? This is how you intend to use the Church’s resources?? You know, if the Church would have done what they were supposed to do about the pedophile priests in the beginning, maybe, folks wouldn’t be looking at the Church and saying, People who live in glass houses, shouln’t throw stones. What about the women that happen to be non-Catholics working for the Church, what about them. Of coursem the Church is to busy going after nuns, women and last but not least, the Girl Scouts. By the way, 93% of Cahtolic women have used some sort of birth control. I have a hard time listening to a man tell me what to do about my health.

  8. John says:

    Well done, your Eminence! Big Brother is alive and well in Amerika today. If Holy Mother Church will not take a stand against this creeping totalitarianism, who will?

  9. Eric says:

    Your Eminence: As a young attorney and a Catholic myself, it was a pleasure to learn of this and to read this complaint. I hope that some day I will have the opportunity to serve the Church in my professional career as well. I am gladdened that the Archdiocese and Rockville Centre are taking this action and choosing to fight the mandate proactively. This proves our Holy Father’s trust in Your Eminence was well placed and that we are fortunate to have you as our Cardinal. I pray that the litigation be decided in the Church’s favor. God Bless.

  10. Irene says:

    It would be nice to read something from the Cardinal in support of our religious sisters. They could use support right now, and I think they deserve it.

  11. Jake says:

    I am a protestant who disagrees with your stance on birth control (altough perhaps we didn’t agree very effectively as we have 4 children!). However, I completely support your right to refuse to offer services which violate your doctrine. In my opinion, for the government to mandate that you provide birth control, whether directly or through insurance you purchase, is to mandate that you adopt the government’s secular humonist doctrine. Exactly what the Establishment Clause was meant to prevent.

  12. Annette says:

    Your Eminence: Thank you, thank you, thank you. Faithful Catholics have been waiting for our Bishops to stand and defend the Catholic Church. As Francis Cardinal George stated: “The Bishops speak for the Catholic and apostolic faith, and those who hold that faith gather around them. Others disperse.” We will remain steadfast in our support of you and your brother Bishops. You are all in our prayers.

  13. Anne says:

    The war on women begins in the womb. Let us liberate powerless female unborn babies from the death sentence passed on them by the abortafacient drug makers, the monied interests like Planned Parenthood, and the continuous propaganda in our culture that unborn females are a threat to their mothers!
    The Catholic Church should not be coerced in waging this war by having to provide abortafacients to their employees.

  14. AndyP/Doria2 says:

    One can always count on our apostate heretical Catholic buddies to ubfuscate the point in your postings Your Eminence. Confusing the issue by bringing up so called pedophile priests when in fact the overwhelming majority were homosexual rapists who invaded our Church.

    The Church is a leader in how it eventually handled this disaster after overly depending on so called psychiatrists who had everyone convinced that this demonic activity was curable, sent these priests back to their bishops, too many of whom transferred these criminals to new parishes without proper venting.

    These apostates won’t mention that a child is 150 times more likely to be molested in a public school and that this problem exists in all faiths. The Church is the biggest target because we are the most relevant. We are the barque that stands in the way of a total secular humanist, atheistic, pagan take over of our society.

    Keep fighting the good fight Cardinal. The Holy Spirit will guide your hand and there are millions of us faithful Catholics out here to help.

  15. Natalie says:

    It is great to see the Catholic church stand up for itself! Those of us who stood by the church during the scandals, who pray the rosary at the abortion clinics, attend mass, attend Eucharistic Adoration, enroll our children in Catholic schools knew that this day would come. We have made it through the worst of times. Now, the serpent will again be squashed at our feet. Government intervention will not be tolerated.

    One day every knee will bow to Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

    The day is coming.

    Philippians 4:13

  16. joshua says:

    Who would have guessed. A minority President that has been put in the White House to take the Church down and change the way in which the Constitution provides protection to our right of religion. Like the Trojan Horse sneak attack. Remember that he said long ago that the only problem with the Constitution is that it tells the government what it cannot do. That it restricts the government too much. We have to stop thinking of Obama as our President and start thinking of him as a legal foe. Here to make this showdown his ultimate masterpiece. Like a good lawyer, he does not care that his master is guilty or innocent. It does not matter to him. In his mind he has distanced his soul from his client as a good lawyer should and sees his duty to obey his master. He thinks he is going to heaven no matter what because he only doing his professional duty. As a good lawyer, he will protect the gay marriage and pro abortion lobby at all cost. As a career lawyer, there could be no greater glory that to achieve what amounts to be the Holy Grail of law schools. To beat one of the Constitution’s prime directives, the freedom of religion. He knows his place in history. This is it boys. You are in a tight spot. If you win, like Pontius Pilates he will wash his hands of any guilt if the healthcare programs fails and blame you for the failure forever. The President, the insurance companies, secular hospitals, and some so called Catholic hospitals, and his Democratic allies will be blameless. If he wins he will have won the Holy Grail of all legal battles against the Church in the US. You have a tough battle ahead. Already the liberals are attacking other religions that have spoken out to put them in their place. Hasidic Jews are under attach in NYC. The Moslems have been under attack, as well as Roman Catholics. Eastern Orthodox, and Baptist Protestants have not been attached yet. But they will be if they stick their nose into this fight. Put your seat belts on. This will be a rough ride. May God Bless you and strengthen you, and fill you with wisdom.

  17. Patrius Americanus says:

    Rare opportunities are infrequent. While the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is dutifully objecting to the HHS ruling, it is failing to seize the opportunity to provide their leadership to unite ALL Christian Churches against the larger threat of progressive tyranny against ALL our civil liberties, not only our religious freedom.

    It is also time to recognize the reality that politics is a religious issue. Christian morals and religious principles are the moral foundation of our society and the Constitution of the United States. It is delusional to maintain the false illusion of separation of religion and politics.

    His Imperial Highness, the Prince of Progressive Socialism, his reigning cohort, the Queen of Excessive Extravagance, and their loyal entourage of subversive co-conspirators are dedicated to “change” our society by undermining its foundations, by-passing our Constitution, and imposing their interpretation of “Populorum Progressio” and “Caritas in veritate,” to take from the rich and redistribute to the poor.

    In the name of social justice, the Church tip-toes gingerly up to the line of transgression into politics, but it must exert its influence in politics to defend ALL American civil liberties, not just its own moral authority and survival.

    The HHS mandate is not just a Catholic issue, it is a totalitarian abuse of power which usurps freedom of choice for ALL Americans, and interferes with our American free-enterprise system:

    • It dictates what features must be included in a product or service which is
    offered for sale by a free-enterprise.

    • It mandates which product a consumer must purchase, which is clearly a
    violation of individual civil liberty and freedom of choice.

    • It imposes conditions which coerce citizens into compliance and
    “voluntary” acceptance of a specified product.

    • This regulation specifically paves the way for the next step, which is
    mandatory abortion, sterilization, and infanticide as a means of
    population control in accord with the defined objectives of United Nations
    Agenda 21.

    Compromises by the treacherous Obama administration are devious and cosmetic only. The HHS mandate is merely one facet of a progressive socialist program which is carefully and deliberately designed to achieve its agenda to replace religion and faith in God with dependence upon big government.

    Once progressive agendas are achieved, churches will be under attack next.

    It is time for ecumenical cooperation to use the power of the pulpit to educate and unite religious, ethnic, and cultural groups against progressive tyranny before the Pied Piper of Pennsylvania Avenue uses his bully pulpit to unleash the full force of the federal government.

    They must do so now, before it is too late.

    The following article (by a non-Catholic!) is extremely pertinent to the crisis of the abuse of power:

  18. Eunice says:

    It is unfortunate that the Archbioshop finds objection in our government stepping into the Church’s affairs, and yet there is rarely hesitation for the Church to become involved in political debate when it suits them. Let the Church back away from any political involvement in issues such as gay marriage. You may ask your followers not to marry members of the Church who are of the same gender, but do not make public statements or throw your support behind candidates to support your political views.

  19. Phil says:

    Hello, Your Eminence: My first time on your blog. When Secretary Sebelius announced the HHS mandate,I was on the net, i.e. Michael Winter’s column in NCR, denouncing the decision. You followed a few hours later and I suspect used a few of my ideas. I am delighted. We all have to work together on this issue. If I have been of any help,it is a great joy to me.