U.S. bishops ‘hopeful’ Trump’s religious liberty order has begun ‘larger’ effort for freedom

'So far, I would call it a hopeful stance,' the bishop said.
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Cardinal Daniel DiNardo Claire Chretien / LifeSiteNews
Claire Chretien By Claire Chretien

Claire Chretien By Claire Chretien

INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana, June 14, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has a "hopeful stance" on President Trump's recent actions protecting religious liberty, the conference's president Cardinal Daniel DiNardo said Wednesday. 

Trump's recent executive order that promises to provide "regulatory relief for religious objectors to Obamacare’s burdensome preventive services mandate" is hopefully the beginning of what will be a "larger" effort to protect religious freedom, DiNardo said. He was speaking at a press conference after the first morning of the bishops' spring 2017 meeting. 

For years, Catholic institutions have battled an Obama administration order, often called the "HHS contraception mandate" that forced them to provide employees with contraceptives, some of them abortifacient. 

"The executive order is the beginnings, we’ve called it, of some of [what] we hope will be a much larger thing that will happen with Health and Human Services," said DiNardo. 

Some social conservatives have criticized the executive order for being too weak. Other, however, have praised it as a great first step to stopping the mandate. 

On May 31, a draft of a new regulation implementing this executive order was leaked. It would allow any non-governmental entity to request exemption from the contraceptive mandate on moral or religious grounds. It acknowledged pro-lifers' concerns that certain forms of contraception can act as abortifacients and that contraception doesn't reduce abortion rates.

Religious liberty advocates said the leaked draft is an acknowledgment that "people can get contraceptives without forcing nuns to provide them."

"It remains to be seen" what the final order will look like, DiNardo said. "But so far, I would call [our position] a hopeful stance." 

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