August 7, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – The president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops reminded President Trump last week that he has yet to live up to his promise to lift the Obama-era HHS mandate.
In an op-ed published Thursday for The Hill, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Houston, Texas, noted that it has been “nearly three months” since President Trump signed an executive order that he claimed would end “attacks on” the “religious liberty” of the Little Sister of the Poor. Despite the president’s actions, the “onerous” mandate “still stands,” the Cardinal lamented.
“For four years, the Little Sisters and many other faith-based nonprofit groups have patiently asked the government to do the right thing and let them serve the poor. In a pluralistic society like ours, people should be free to serve the common good without compromising their moral or religious convictions,” DiNardo observed.
This mandate “has tested this country’s commitment to a healthy pluralism,” he added.
“The president’s promises were not just in his speeches. The text of the executive order itself directs the secretary of Health and Human Services to ‘consider issuing amended regulations, consistent with applicable law, to address conscience-based objections to the preventive-care mandate.’”
Lift this burden
Cardinal DiNardo then drew attention to the fact that if a solution for the mandate “is not reached,” many “organizations could face millions of dollars in fines from the federal government for non-compliance with the HHS mandate.”
Therefore, “It is now time for the administration to take the next steps in the process of ensuring that the Little Sisters, and all those who seek to abide by their religious beliefs or moral convictions, would be able to continue to serve their fellow citizens in accordance with their consciences.”
He concluded by pointing out that the mandate “puts an unnecessary burden on religious freedom, a burden that the administration has the power to lift, a burden that the administration has promised to lift. And yet the burden has not been lifted.”
“Mr. President, please lift this burden.”
Never a chance?
In May, DiNardo, who serves as the Archbishop of Galveston-Houston, expressed hope that the executive order would begin “the process of alleviating the serious burden of the HHS mandate.”
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins agreed, saying the order “starts the process of reversing the devastating trend set by the last administration to punish charities, pastors, family owned businesses and honest, hard-working people simply for living according to their faith.”
Others, like Heritage Foundation scholar Ryan T. Anderson, called the executive order “woefully inadequate,” arguing that what Trump signed in May in the Rose Garden was significantly watered down from an earlier, more robust version of the order.
Conservatives were largely divided on the efficacy of the executive order.
The Department of Justice announced in April that it needed more time to look into the possibility of lifting the mandate.