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Bishop Malooly: HHS health care mandates threaten religious freedom

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Special to The Dialog

SMYRNA – Bishop Malooly is calling for Catholics to speak out against a federal mandate that, despite a narrowly written exemption for religious institutions, would require many Catholic institutions to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives and sterilizations.

The health care reform act’s guidelines by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services “threaten religious freedom and our rights more than ever,” he told about 40 people at a Mass for the Unborn at St. Polycarp Church March 26. Catholic colleges and hospitals, and other institutions, would not be covered by the religious exemption. “We need to respond and to act.”

He also asked for prayers for women who may be considering or who have undergone abortions, and for Catholics to change the view of society regarding the sanctity of unborn life. The bishop suggested that individuals promote that sanctity in such ways as offering alternatives to a woman in a troubled pregnancy. Such action, he said, “can be a compassionate form of charity.”

Bishop Malooly urges Catholics to "speak the truth" about the sanctity of human life during his March 26 homily at the Mass for the Unborn at St. Polycarp Church in Smyrna. The Dialog/Jason Minto

God wants us to “speak the truth” about the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death, Bishop Malooly said. “It is only truth that can win out in the long run.”

The Mass was part of a series of events marking World Day of the Unborn, which normally is celebrated March 25. That is the date on which the Catholic Church usually celebrates the feast of the Annunciation, when Mary accepted God’s will that she should conceive Jesus, the Son of God. Since March 25 this year fell on a Sunday, the church observed the Annunciation on Monday.

Earlier on March 26, pro-life marchers walked around Legislative Hall in Dover for two hours. Later many of the marchers were treated to a spaghetti dinner hosted by the Knights of Columbus at St. Polycarp, followed by rosary and the Mass. This marked the 10th year for the dinner and Mass, said Father Tom Flowers, St. Polycarp’s pastor.

The activities provided a family day for Cheryl Thomas and three of her children, including Luke, who used a day of his spring break from the University of Delaware to advocate for life. “We’ve been doing this about 10 years now,” Cheryl Thomas said. “Basically, it’s just one more pro-life activity we can do.”

Sue O’Hanlon and three of her children also participated. “I see the critical need to be a voice for truth in our culture and to celebrate life,” she said.