Army Chaplains Prohibited from Reading Letter on HHS Ruling
Catholic chaplains have been prohibited by the U.S. Army chief of chaplains from reading a letter opposing the Obama administration's contraceptive and sterilization mandate. The letter in question was written by the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, head of the Archdiocese for Military Services. In the letter, the Archbishop states that the decision handed down by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services violates First Amendment rights of free speech and free exercise of religion.
Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio addressed his concerns with Secretary of the Army John McHugh about the chief of chaplains' response to the archbishop's Jan. 26 letter. According to a statement released by the military archdiocese to Catholic News Service Feb. 6, Archbishop Broglio and Secretary McHugh "agreed that it was a mistake to stop the reading of the Archbishop's letter."
The letter had been issued as part of a nationwide campaign by U.S. bishops protesting the Department of Health and Human Services requirement that all health plans -- even those covering employees of Catholic schools, hospitals and charitable institutions -- cover contraceptives, including some that can cause abortions, and sterilization free of charge.
The Archbishop said he 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."
The office of the Army chief of chaplains did not immediately respond to a CNS request for comment about the incident.
The military archdiocese said there was no objection to the letter from the other branches of military service.