Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Terence P. Jeffrey

2/7/2012 (4 years ago)

CNSNews (

It is a blow to a freedom that you have fought to defend and for which you have seen your buddies fall in battle

Archbishop Timothy Broglio, who leads the Roman Catholic Archdiocese for the Military Services, wrote a letter to be read at all Sunday Masses for U.S. military personnel around the world that said that a regulation issued by the Obama Administration under the new federal health care law was "a blow" to a freedom that U.S. troops have not only fought to defend but for which some have recently died in battle.

Archbishop Timothy Broglio

Archbishop Timothy Broglio


By Terence P. Jeffrey

CNSNews (

2/7/2012 (4 years ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Army chaplians, Obamacare, Archbishop Timothy Broglio, Military chaplains, Health Care Law

WASHINGTON,DC ( - Archbishop Timothy Broglio, who leads the Roman Catholic Archdiocese for the Military Services, wrote a letter to be read at all Sunday Masses for U.S. military personnel around the world that said that a regulation issued by the Obama Administration under the new federal health care law was "a blow" to a freedom that U.S. troops have not only fought to defend but for which some have recently died in battle.

"It is a blow to a freedom that you have fought to defend and for which you have seen your buddies fall in battle," the archbishop wrote.

Another line in his letter said: "We cannot-we will not-comply with this unjust law."

The message from the archbishop touched off a controversy both in and outside the military when the Army's Office of the Chief of Chaplains told the service's senior chaplains that Catholic priests serving as Army chaplains should be told not to read the archbishop's letter from the pulpit.

The Archdiocese for the Military Services has described that move as a violation of the archbishop's First Amendment rights as well as the First Amendment rights of the Catholic chaplains involved and their congregations.

The regulation the archbishop spoke about was finalized by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Jan. 20. It mandates that all health-care plans in the United States cover sterilizations and all FDA-approved contraceptives, including those that cause abortions.

A "religious" employer exemption included in the regulation only applies to organizations that primarily focus on inculcating the tenets of the church in question, primarily employ members of the church, primarily serve members of the church, and is organized under the section of the Internal Revenue Code used by actual parishes.

Catholic hospitals, universities and charitable institutions would not be exempt from the regulation, nor would Catholic individuals, business owners, or insurers.

Because the Catholic Church teaches that sterilization, artificial contraception, and abortion are morally wrong and that Catholics cannot be involved in them, and because the Obamacare law requires that all individual purchase health insurance and that larger employers provide health insurance to their workers or face a penalty, the regulation would force Catholics to act against the teachings of their faith and against their consciences.

Archbishop Broglio's letter opposing the regulation and describing it as a violation of the constitutional rights of Catholics was read verbatim at Masses served by Navy and Air Force chaplains around the world.

However, the Army's Office of the Chief of Chaplains attempted to silence Catholic Army chaplains from reading it at their Masses-an effort rejected and resisted by Archbishop Broglio.

"On Thursday, January 26, Archbishop Broglio emailed a pastoral letter to Catholic military chaplains with instructions that it be read from the pulpit at Sunday Masses the following weekend in all military chapels," the Catholic Archdiocese for the Military said in a statement.

"The letter calls on Catholics to resist the policy initiative, recently affirmed by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, for federally mandated health insurance covering sterilization, abortifacients and contraception, because it represents a violation of the freedom of religion recognized by the U.S. Constitution," said the statement by the archdiocese.

"The Army's Office of the Chief of Chaplains subsequently sent an email to senior chaplains advising them that the Archbishop's letter was not coordinated with that office and asked that it not be read from the pulpit," said the archdiocese's statement. "The Chief's office directed that the letter was to be mentioned in the Mass announcements and distributed in printed form in the back of the chapel."

On Saturday, Jan. 28, after the Army's Office of the Chief of Chaplains issued this directive, Archbishop Broglio spoke with Secretary of the Army John McHugh, a political appointee of President Barack Obama.

Archbishop Broglio's position was that, in trying to stop Catholic Army chaplains from reading his pastoral letter, the Army was violating his First Amendment rights to free speech and the free exercise of religion and the First Amendment rights of Catholic chaplains and Catholic service members.

"Archbishop Broglio and the Archdiocese stand firm in the belief, based on legal precedent, that such a directive from the Army constituted a violation of his Constitutionally-protected right of free speech and the free exercise of religion, as well as those same rights of all military chaplains and their congregants," said the statement from the archdiocese.

In his Jan. 28 telephone conversation with Army Secretary McHugh, Archbishop Broglio was able to extract from the secretary an admission that it had been wrong for the secretary to try to silence the Catholic chaplains. The archbishop decided that the line in his letter that said Catholics cannot and will not comply with the "unjust law" of the HHS regulation would not be read aloud in Catholic Masses by the chaplains, but that the rest of the letter would.

The line stating "we will not ... comply with this unjust law" did remain, however, in the printed letter that was distributed at Masses said by Army chaplains and it remains in the copies of the letter posted on the website of the Archdiocese for the Military.

"Following a discussion between Archbishop Broglio and the Secretary of the Army, The Honorable John McHugh, it was agreed that it was a mistake to stop the reading of the Archbishop's letter," said the statement by the archdiocese.  "Additionally, the line: 'We cannot--we will not--comply with this unjust law' was removed [from the reading of the letter] by Archbishop Broglio at the suggestion of Secretary McHugh over the concern that it could potentially be misunderstood as a call to civil disobedience.

"The AMS did not receive any objections to the reading of Archbishop Broglio's statement from the other branches of service," said the archdiocese's statement.

Archbishop Broglio's letter minced no words in telling Catholics in the Armed Forces that the federal government was not only violating their constitutional rights through the new Obamacare regulation but was also violating the constitutional rights of all Catholics, while harming the freedom of religion generally.

"It is imperative that I call to your attention to an alarming and serious matter that negatively impacts the Church in the United directly, and that strikes at the fundamental right to religious liberty for all citizens of any faith," wrote the archbishop.

"The federal government, which claims to be 'of, by, and for the people,' has just dealt a heavy blow to almost a quarter of those people-the Catholic population-and to the millions more who are served by the Catholic faith," wrote the archbishop.

"It is a blow to a freedom that you have fought to defend and for which you have seen your buddies fall in battle," said Archbishop Broglio.

The archbishop made clear that the regulation seeks to force not only Catholic institutions but also individuals, employers and insurers to provide and/or purchase immoral services.

"The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced last week that almost all employers, including Catholic employers, will be  forced to offer their employees' health coverage the includes sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs, and contraception," said Archbishop Broglio. "Almost all health insurers will be forced to include these immoral 'services' in the health policies they write. And almost all individuals will be forced to buy that coverage as a part of their policies."

Archbishop Broglio declared that the Administration's regulation was an "unjust law" and warned that Catholics would resist it.

"In so ruling," he wrote, "the Administration has cast aside the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, denying Catholics our Nation's first and most fundamental freedom, that of religious liberty.

"And, as a result, unless the rule is overturned, we Catholics will be compelled to choose between violating our consciences or dropping health care coverage for our employees (and suffering the penalties for doing so)," said the archbishop.

"We cannot-and will not-comply with this unjust law," he wrote.

When she finalized the regulation last month, HHS Secretary Sebelius said she would give religious non-profit organizations-such as Catholic hospitals, universities and charitable institutions-until Aug. 1, 2013 to "adapt" to the new regulation and comply with it. For Catholic business owners, insurers and individuals the rule will take effect this Aug. 1.

In comments on the regulation submitted to HHS in September, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops called it an "unprecedented attack on religious liberty" and urged the administration to completely rescind it. "The HHS mandate should be rescinded in its entirety," the bishops said.

In November, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, personally made the Catholic Church's case for rescinding the regulation to President Barack Obama.

Over the past week, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney has repeatedly defended the regulation, saying at one point that it did not raise any "constitutional issues."

A spokesman for the Army's Office of the Chief of Chaplains told that the office sent an email out to senior chaplains around the world a week ago Friday asking that Archbishop Broglio's letter not be read during Mass last Sunday but only be mentioned during Mass and then handed out afterwards.

--- is a division of the Media Research Center, a not-for-profit 501 (c)(3) organization. Like National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting System, is able to provide its services and information to the public at no cost, thanks to the generous support of our thousands of donors and their tax-deductible contributions.This article is reprinted with permission.


More U.S.

St. John Paul II, Apostle of Divine Mercy: Divine Mercy and the Wound of Disbelief Watch

Image of St. John Paul II, an apostle of Divine Mercy

By Deacon Keith Fournier

The Second Sunday of Easter is Divine Mercy Sunday in the Roman Catholic Liturgical Calendar. In 2013, it was also the day when St. John XXIII and St. John Paul II, were canonized. St. John Paul II was deeply devoted to the Divine Mercy. He said it was the key to ... continue reading

Feast of St. John Paul II, His Prophetic Warning to the U.S. Requires a Response Watch

Image of Deacon Keith Fournier standing under the beautiful bronze statue of John Paul II in Denver, Colorado.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

In an address given during that 1976 Eucharistic Congress in Philadelphia for the bicentennial celebration of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla spoke some words which I believe were prophetic. - We are now standing in the face ... continue reading

Cardinal Dolan sits in 'the iciest place on the planet' as Clinton and Trump roast each other to cheers and boos - TRANSCRIPT Watch

Image of Cardinal Dolan described his seat as the iciest on the planet, but there were laughs and the event was a fundraising success.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Cardinal Dolan had "the iciest place on the planet" during last night's "Alfred E. Smith's Memorial Foundation Dinner." The Cardinal was seated between Trump and Clinton who riffed on each other during the event. Some of Trump's jokes provoked boos instead of laughter. ... continue reading

A novena addressed to Mary has been released for the U.S. Watch

Image of The Blessed Virgin.

By (CNA/EWTN News)

With the Nov. 8 election approaching, the Knights of Columbus have released a novena addressed to Mary, the Immaculate Conception, who is the patroness of the United States. Washington D.C. (CNA/EWTN News) - The novena consists of nine days of prayer, starting Oct. 30 ... continue reading

EXCLUSIVE: A Catholic Mother Speaks: An Open Letter to Vice-Presidential Candidate, Tim Kaine Watch

Image of Terry Beatley

By Terry Beatley

Mr. Kaine, for the sake of Christ's sorrowful passion, have you no mercy for God's precious children and the young mothers who are sold lies? In case your bishop and priest have failed to tell you, you are in mortal sin. I did not return "home" to the Catholic ... continue reading

'The idea isn't crazy' - US bishops on 'Catholic Spring' Watch

Image of Are American ideals at risk?

By (CNA/EWTN News)

Following a leaked email from prominent political actors about a possible "Catholic Spring" movement to plant "seeds of the revolution" within the Church, the U.S. bishops' conference has rebuked interference in the Church and a political discourse that marginalizes ... continue reading

Gender identity to become a protected class, leaving the Church unable to preach against transgenderism Watch

Image of Massachusetts churches may be banned from preaching about transgenderism.

By (CNA/EWTN News)

Four churches and their pastors are challenging a Massachusetts law which they say could regulate their speech regarding gender identity. Boston, MA (CNA/EWTN News) - "This case is about who controls Massachusetts churches," said the churches' legal motion to halt ... continue reading

New WikiLeaks emails show Clinton campaign is VERY corrupt and working WITH the biased media Watch

Image of WikiLeaks continues to release emails from the Clinton camp, revealing a disturbing pattern of corruption.


More emails from Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, John Podesta reveals a growing mountain of evidence that Hillary Clinton and her campaign are corrupt and have been engaged in systematic corruption for a long time. Americans must soon decide if they are ... continue reading

'Ma, get up' Daughter live-streams overdosed parents in tragic, eye-opening video Watch

Image of A girl returned home to discover her parents had overdosed.


The United States' war on drugs is failing and kids are the greatest victims. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Horror stories have been cropping up left and right as people across the U.S. have been overdosing on opioids, such as heroin and painkillers laced with ... continue reading

Should Christians protest the Dakota Access Pipeline? Watch

Image of Thousands of people have protested against the Dakota Access Pipeline, but the project continues.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The Dakota Access Pipeline is being laid across Native American land in North Dakota. Native Americans have turned out by the thousands since May to oppose its construction on what they say is sacred land. For this reason and others, Christians should consider joining ... continue reading

All U.S. News


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ephesians 4:32--5:8
32 Be generous to one another, sympathetic, forgiving each other as ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 1:1-2, 3, 4, 6
1 How blessed is anyone who rejects the advice of the wicked and does not ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 13:10-17
10 One Sabbath day he was teaching in one of the synagogues,11 ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 24th, 2016 Image

St. Anthony Mary Claret
October 24: Claretian archbishop and founder. Anthony was ... Read More