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PHILADELPHIA, February 14, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The archbishop of Philadelphia has issued a scathing rebuke of the Obama administration over its impending rule to force religious groups to fund sterilizations and abortifacient drugs, calling it “the embodiment of culture war,” and expressing concern that the extraordinary gravity of the issue could become obscured as “just another debate about details.”

“Many Catholics are confused and angry. They should be,” said Chaput in a column for the Philadelphia Enquirer on Sunday. (Read the full column here.) 

The prelate, who has written a book on the intersection of Catholic faith and politics, said that the event reflects more than a “happenstance policy,” but a “pattern” of ill treatment of religious freedom by the administration that renders the full gravity of the mandate “deliberate.”

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“The current administration prides itself on being measured and deliberate. The current HHS mandate needs to be understood as exactly that,” he wrote. “Commentators are using words like ‘gaffe,’ ’ ill conceived,’ and ‘mistake’ to describe the mandate. They’re wrong. It’s impossible to see this regulation as some happenstance policy. It has been too long in the making.”

Even following the “adjustment” proposed by president Obama Friday, said Chaput, the mandate “is belligerent, unnecessary, and deeply offensive to the content of Catholic belief.”

“We cannot afford to be fooled – yet again – by evasive and misleading allusions to the administration’s alleged ‘flexibility’ on such issues. The HHS mandate needs to be rescinded,” he said.

“The White House response on these points is ambiguous and weak. The true magnitude of the issue is getting lost as just another debate about details. In reality, no similarly aggressive attack on religious freedom in our country has occurred in recent memory.”

Read Abp. Chaput’s full column here.

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