Letter critical of Obama not read at every mass

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Cardinal Francis George at Monday’s Mayoral Inauguration at Millennium Park, May 16, 2011. | Jean Lachat~Sun-Times

A letter from Cardinal Francis George condemning the Obama administration’s mandate for religious employers to offer insurance covering birth control was to be read at parish services Sunday.

However, at least at one mass at Holy Name Cathedral the letter was not read, though it was printed in the church bulletin and referred to twice during the service.

“The cardinal has an important letter in our church bulletin and he asks all of us to read it and to reflect on what religious freedom truly means,” Rev. William Moriarity said at the beginning of the 12:30 mass.

During the homily, Moriarity said, “The cardinal asks us to pray for wisdom and understanding from government officials and to use a website “where you can write letters or email the appropriate people.”

The cardinal’s letter, strongly condemning President Barack Obama’s administration’s mandate for religious employers to offer insurance covering birth control, was written Feb. 5 and followed the same format of many other bishops’ letters that were read in churches across the country last Sunday.

It did not address Obama’s compromise on the issue that emerged later in the week, which would not require employers to cover contraception but would also require insurance companies to provide contraception coverage directly for free to employees who want it. Nevertheless, the U.S. Conference of Bishops rejected the compromise Friday, saying it “continues to involve needless government intrusion in the internal governance of religious institutions, and to threaten government coercion of religious people and groups to violate their most deeply held convictions.”

However, Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, president of the bishops conference, appeared to be more conciliatory Sunday, when after landing at the airport in Rome, he told the New York Times “there are so many unanswered questions” regarding the compromise, and that it was “too early for us to give a judgment one way or the other.”

Catholics who attended the Mass at Holy Name Cathedral, the seat of Cardinal George, mostly agreed with the cardinal. “I’m torn as a woman, I tend to believe in freedom of choice,” said Nancy Lilley, of Plainfield. “But I don’t believe it’s right for the government to tell religious organizations to go against what they believe.”

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