Lander, Wyo. - (January 30, 2014) – In conjunction with various institutions throughout the state, Wyoming Catholic College Thursday afternoon joined the Diocese of Cheyenne in seeking an injunction against the Department of Health and Human Services’ unprecedented mandate requiring religious organizations to facilitate coverage for products and procedures in direct conflict with their religious beliefs, a news release from the college said.
Here is the body of the news release:
The complaint, which was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Wyoming, maintains that the mandate violates the First Amendment and federal law by forcing the plaintiffs, all Catholic organizations, to sacrifice their beliefs in order to continue their various missions. As the Diocesan press release states, “The diocese and the plaintiffs cannot, consistent with Catholic teachings and principles, take these actions,” adding that “the mandate requires all plaintiffs except the diocese to authorize an insurance provider or third-party administrator to provide the objectionable coverage to their employees, and to take numerous additional steps to ensure that their health plans serve as a conduit for the delivery of that coverage.” Bishop Paul Etienne, head of the Diocese, remarked that “I as a pastor must look to the best interests of the people and ministries of the Church entrusted to my care. The requirements of the HHS mandate that these religious organizations, through our group health plan, or through a third party administrator, provide access to these morally objectionable services is morally unacceptable.”
In communicating his decision to join the Diocese’s complaint to members of the Wyoming Catholic College community, President Kevin D. Roberts recognized both the gravity and the necessity of this action, reflecting that “Today marks a somber day in the history of our college. In the face of an oppressive law that runs roughshod over the most fundamental of our rights—religious liberty—we find ourselves with no other avenue to follow in order to avoid providing contraceptives and abortifacients—practices that are utterly antithetical to our religious beliefs. As a historian of the Founding of the United States, I know full well the importance of guarding these freedoms against oppression, which is why I believe that the College has no recourse but to seek a legal injunction.”
Dr. Roberts asked friends and supporters of the College to “keep in mind the spurious history of this legislation. First, ‘religious employers’ were to be exempt from the contraceptive mandate, but further examination showed that even colleges like ours, who are deeply committed to Church teaching and renowned for fidelity to the Roman Catholic Church, are not considered ‘religious employers.’ Consequently, the Administration articulated the so-called ‘accommodation,’ which accommodates nothing other than an alternative, cunning method for us to violate our beliefs. And finally, even though our health insurance plan is self-funded—supposedly, a fact worthy of protection according to the Act—once again, further examination demonstrates that the opposite is true in practice.”
“Trust me—we would certainly prefer to be spending our time and resources on other priorities. But I suppose the irony is that we form our students here to be virtuous leaders, ready to respond whenever duty, however inconvenient, beckons. The history of both the Church and the Republic is filled with people who stood in the face of injustice, laboring humbly but diligently toward its end. And so shall we, for the costs of not doing so are too great—not only for us, but for all Americans.”
“So I will be clear: this College will not and cannot accept an unjust law that violates our first freedom, for practicing that freedom is the very reason that Wyoming Catholic College exists. As Cardinal Timothy Dolan has remarked, ‘This is a fight that we didn’t ask for, and would rather not be in, but it’s certainly one that we won’t run from.’”
–Wyoming Catholic College