February 4, 2012: The National Fraternity of the Secular Franciscan Order of the United States of America
joins the United States Catholic bishops in their strong condemnation of the
"Preventive Services" mandate of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
All thirty national regions, representing over 13,000 individual members, support that
Catholic organizations that provide health care insurance to their members will have
their long established conscience rights violated by the mandate to make available,
and use organizational funds to procure insurance plans covering sterilization and
contraceptive drugs, including those which are abortifacient. This mandate preempts
individual and organizational choices in conformance with the Church’s sanctity of
It is an abuse of religious freedom, as it subordinates traditional religious beliefs
of Catholics and many others to the will of the State. While the Church has a
responsibility to participate in society, that participation must be conditioned by
the beliefs and practices of the Church. We live in a pluralistic society in which
only when the rights of all members are respected is the common good attained. The Church’s
beliefs in the sanctity of life permeate its charitable works, its outreach to the world.
These beliefs make many contributions to our society, helping, nursing, feeding and caring,
all without trampling on the religious rights of others.
As Secular Franciscans, we are bearers of peace. We seek out ways of achieving unity
through dialog. Mindful of these responsibilities, we pray for and seek from our elected
officials an alternative to the present U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ruling;
one that is life-affirming and respectful of the religious beliefs of all.