Pennsylvania bishops: March 30 to be day of fasting over HHS mandate


Calling the Obama administration’s mandated insurance coverage for contraceptives an “assault” on religious freedom, Pennsylvania’s 10 Catholic bishops have urged Catholics statewide to make Friday, March 30, a day of prayer and fasting.

“On that day, offer your sacrifice for the cause of religious liberty, that the Church may be granted the basic right to practice what she preaches, and for our political leaders, that their eyes may be opened to the rights of all Americans,” the bishops said in a letter issued last week and read Sunday at some parishes in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

The bishops assert that the federal mandate requiring health insurance companies to cover contraceptives “punishes the Church for its firmly held beliefs.”

Catholic leaders have denounced the regulation because the church holds that artificial contraception and sterilization are morally wrong.

The two-page letter was generated by the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference (PCC), a lobbying and advocacy group based in Harrisburg. Its members are the state’s eight Roman Catholic diocesan bishops, the Philadelphia-based Ukrainian Catholic archbishop, and the Byzantine-rite archbishop, in Pittsburgh.

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, head of the Roman-rite Archdiocese of Philadelphia, is president of the PCC and has been an outspoken critic of the White House’s mandated contraceptive coverage, which he has called “flawed and dangerous.”

While fasting on Fridays is a Catholic Lenten tradition, its use in a political controversy is without recent precedent, according to officials at the archdiocese and the PCC.

“All the bishops decided this is a very serious issue,” said Amy Hill, spokeswoman for the Catholic Conference. She said it had been in the works for several weeks.

“We’re asking Catholics who are already observing Lent to take it the next step.”

Hill also said the effort was not an attempt by the bishops to embarrass President Obama in an election year. “We didn’t start it. We didn’t ask for this,” she said.

Steven Bozza, director of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s Respect Life Office, called the use of Lenten practices “unusual.”

“But extreme situations call for extreme responses,” he said.

Read the rest.


  1. There are also protests planned for 23 March at noon in over 100 cities. I plan to march in Washington, DC, where the protest will take place at the HHS building. I hope these are well-attended rallies. I have felt the need to do something, to make my voice heard. I hope this is a start:

  2. Spambot3049 says:

    I agree with Peggy. I feel a need to do something as well, and for now I plan on fasting March 30th as well. Our political leadership has failed us and the faithful need to stand up and make ourselves heard. This fast and protest needs to be nationwide.

  3. Peggy, that’s great to know. Perhaps I’ll take the day off from work if I can and join the one in NYC. I’ll see if any of my friends are up for it. Thanks.

  4. I’ll be going to the one in D.C. as well. It’ll be a challenge as I’ll have my 18 month old in tow, but I feel the need to take a stand.

  5. We are going to the march on the 23rd as well. will join the fast as well.

  6. Me too.

  7. I’m in Kentucky and I will fast too.

  8. Order me a steak!

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