PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania, January 27, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Saying it’s “really hard to believe that it happened,” the bishop of Pittsburgh has taken aim at the Obama administration’s birth control mandate.

“It comes like a slap in the face. The Obama administration has just told the Catholics of the United States, ‘To Hell with you!’” wrote Bishop David Zubik in a hard-hitting column appearing on the diocese’s website. “There is no other way to put it.”

Catholic bishops have been up in arms ever since the administration indicated it would force virtually all employers to cover all birth control, including drugs that can cause early abortions, like Plan B and ella. Last week, Catholic Church leaders were aghast to hear that, upon further consideration, the administration had refused to back down, instead simply giving outraged faith-based groups another year to comply with the mandate.

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Zubik said the unilateral mandate “undermines the democratic process itself” and represents an unprecedented attack on conscience rights.

“This is government by fiat that attacks the rights of everyone – not only Catholics; not only people of all religion,” he said. “At no other time in memory or history has there been such a governmental intrusion on freedom not only with regard to religion, but even across-the-board with all citizens.

“It forces every employer to subsidize an ideology or pay a penalty while searching for alternatives to health care coverage. It undermines the whole concept and hope for health care reform by inextricably linking it to the zealotry of pro-abortion bureaucrats.”

The bishop lamented that the many voices of Catholics protesting the mandate when it first was announced this summer had fallen on deaf ears, and urged even more persistent protest be directed at the president, Secretary Sebelius, and those in Congress.

“Could Catholics be insulted any more, suggesting that we have no concern for women’s health issues?” he wrote. The Catholic Church and the Catholic people have erected health care facilities that are recognized worldwide for their compassionate care for everyone regardless of their creed, their economic circumstances and, most certainly, their gender. In so many parts of the globe – the United States included – the Church is health care.” 

“We’ll give you a year, they are saying, and then you have to knuckle under.”

Read Zubik’s full column here.