By Kathleen Gilbert

BOSTON, January 13, 2009 ( – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has sued the U.S. government for funding the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) initiative against human trafficking, because their services do not extend to contraception and abortion.

The lawsuit, filed in a Boston court, claims that the USCCB is imposing its beliefs on taxpayers and victims of human trafficking by not using federal grant money to fund subcontractors providing condoms, the abortifacient morning-after pill, or abortions, all of which are gravely immoral according to Church teaching.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) granted $6 million between 2006 and 2008 to the USCCB, which stipulated its moral guidelines for services when applying for the funds.

Because the HHS granted the money, the ACLU is accusing them of allowing the USCCB “to impose its own religiously based substantive restrictions on the use of grant funds” and therefore violating the separation of church and state.

Sister Mary Ann Walsh, speaking on behalf of the USCCB, told Reuters that far less of the $6 million figure authorized was actually appropriated, and was well-invested by the HHS.

“The problem of trafficking in this country is huge and serious and the Catholic Church has the best network of services bar none,” she said. “Going to the Catholic Church for social services is very logical.”