Jan. 23, 2013
Diocese responds to lawsuit action
Judge Sean McLaughlin has dismissed the case the Diocese of Erie filed against the federal government last year, seeking to prevent the federal Health and Human Services mandate from taking effect. The Most Rev. Lawrence Persico, bishop of Erie, released the following statement in response:
Statement from the Most Rev. Lawrence T. Persico, bishop of Erie, regarding Judge Sean McLaughlin’s ruling:
I am disappointed in today’s ruling that the case the Diocese of Erie filed against the government of the United States regarding the healthcare mandate has been dismissed. I was obviously hoping that the court would find our case ripe for adjudication. I am, however, heartened by the court's statement that the preventive services mandate as it exists today will never be enforced against the diocesan entities that brought this suit.
I am also encouraged by the court's belief that the government's statements in this and other cases are being taken as a “commitment” by the government to make a meaningful change to the regulations so that Catholic and other religious entities will never be forced to provide services which violate our religious beliefs. These are two assurances which we did not have when the case was filed.
I take comfort that the dismissal was “without prejudice,” which means that if the government does not live up to these commitments within the time frame it promised, we will be free to bring the matter back to the court.
The federal district judge spent a lot of time and effort on this thoughtful opinion. We hope and pray that the government will make the kinds of meaningful changes to these regulations that it has promised so that our Catholic agencies can continue the social services work which they do without fear of fines and penalties or being forced to violate our religious beliefs.
I still believe the action the government has taken in this matter is a violation of our First Amendment right to religious liberty. We anxiously await the promised revisions to the regulations and hope that we will not have to bring the matter before the courts again in order to secure religious liberty—a fundamental American right—for our fellow citizens and for future generations.
Finally, I would like to emphasize that the Catholic Church has advocated for healthcare reform for many decades, with special concern for the poor, the inclusion of legal immigrants and always with the absolute necessity that it respect the life and dignity of every person, from conception to natural death.
Justice and Peace/Respect Life
Erin Landini-Grogan M.S.,N.C.C.,L.P.C.
Office of Parish Social Ministry/Respect Life
429 East Grandview Blvd
Erie, PA 16504
Phone: (814) 824-1254 or (800) 374-3723 x254
Fax: (814) 824-1264