Dominic Massa / Eyewitness News
BILOXI, Miss. – The Catholic Diocese of Biloxi filed suit Monday against the federal government over the Obama administration’s recent mandate requiring religious institutions or their health insurers to cover the cost of birth control for employees.
Bishop Roger Morin called the mandate by the Dept. of Health and Human Services “an unprecedented attack by the Government on one of America’s most cherished freedoms: the freedom to practice one’s religion without government interference.”
Morin, who spent many years in the Archdiocese of New Orleans, is now leader of Biloxi’s approximately 70,000 Catholics.
The suit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi in Gulfport on behalf of several schools and social service agencies in south Mississippi. The Diocese of Jackson has also signed onto the suit on behalf of several of its own institutions.
The lawsuit filed by the Dioceses of Biloxi and Jackson is just one of 12 lawsuits that have been filed nationwide against the federal government by 43 different Catholic organizations.
“The ruling set forth by HHS officials undermines the religious liberty of all Americans and sets a frightening precedent,” Morin said in a statement. “Never before in the history of our country has the federal government attempted to force citizens to directly purchase what violates their consciences and their freely chosen tenets of faith.”
“We cannot sit by in silence. We must be clear that we cannot comply and will not comply.”
The Obama administration policy requires employers, including Catholic schools, hospitals and agencies, to provide employees with insurance coverage for birth control, the morning-after pill and surgical sterilization.