Archbishop Lori Hosts Mass To Oppose HHS Mandate

A standing-room-only congregation estimated at nearly 6,000 people prays during an Oct. 14 Mass and Pilgrimage for Life and Liberty at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. (CNS photo/Leslie E. Kossoff)

Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore hosted mass on October 14 to oppose the US Department of Health and Human Services mandate which forces religious institutions to finance birth control.

The service was held at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. Many Avalon and Brookewood families attended the mass.

Over 130 Masses were held across the country to show opposition to the mandate. Archbishop Lori’s Mass in DC was crowded as were the other masses throughout the country.

“We had to go into a side chapel, which was packed,” described Avalon School President Rich McPherson, who attended the Mass with his family.

Headmaster Kevin Davern noted the Mass was not only a chance to ask God for help, but also a chance to show the government that people oppose this law.

The mandate is known better as the HHS mandate and is part of the Affordable Care Act, more widely known as Obamacare.

Obamacare will require employers to pay for contraception and abortions for employees, or face a large fine, and this forces Catholic businesses such as school and hospitals to fund services that oppose their beliefs.

The mandate does contain an exemption for religious institutions, but the exemption only applies if an institution employs and serves only customers of its own religion. This only exempts a narrow group of institutions, such as chapels.

Those opposed argue even Jesus and the Apostles would not fit into the exemptions set by the mandate.

In response to the opposition by the Church, the government shifted the responsibility to pay for birth control to insurance companies.

Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore blesses children during an Oct. 14 Mass and Pilgrimage for Life and Liberty at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. (CNS photo/Leslie E. Kossoff)

The current opposition to the mandate claims this compensation is ineffective because insurance companies increase prices on the rest of a company’s policy to make up for revenue lost on birth control.

Opinions at Avalon lean heavily against the mandate.

“This thing is scary,” said teacher Tom Black. “It’s clearly an attack on both American values and the truth.”

Additionally, Avalon and Brookewood families oppose the rule for more than their religious views.

Avalon senior Josh Solomon and his family attended the Mass even though they are Jewish. They support the opposition to the HHS mandate for its attack on American civil liberties.

Others resent the mandate because it forces companies to buy a product, which is a violation of a company’s freedom of choice.

Additionally, there are groups who oppose the mandate without a religious basis.  There are secular institutions against the mandate also.

In fact, about 135 lawsuits against the mandate are in the courts and the lawsuits are coming from places like hospitals, and private businesses.

“Many of us were hoping the Supreme Court would strike it down as unconstitutional,” Davern related.  “It seems to me, obviously, unconstitutional.”

Senior John Klein explained his uncle in Colorado will have to lay off employees because the cost to of employee benefits will rise to $20,000 per employee because of the mandate.

Others believe the mandate could have severe implications for the whole country.

“It’s a first step where government wants to take control of our lives,” said Avalon teacher Father Roberto Amoruso.  “That’s dangerous not just for Catholics, it is dangerous for everybody. It is usually one of the first steps that leads to Socialism.”

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