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Cardinal George defies President Obama on birth control

Letter by Francis Cardinal George O.M.I. Archbishop Chicago.

Letter by Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I. Archbishop of Chicago.

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Updated: March 11, 2012 8:39AM

Cardinal Francis George has come out swinging.

In a letter earmarked to be read this weekend at all Catholic churches in the Archdiocese of Chicago, Cardinal George is throwing the gauntlet down at the Obama administration for denying Catholics religious liberty.

“We cannot — and will not — comply with this unjust law,” states the cardinal, who is vehemently opposed to the new Obama administration rule requiring religious organizations to include contraceptive health insurance coverage.

“People of faith cannot be made second-class citizens because of their religious beliefs. . . . Our parents and grandparents did not come to these shores to help build America’s cities and towns, its infrastructure and institutions, enterprise and culture, only to have their posterity stripped of their God given rights.”

In the letter to the Archdiocese’s 2.3 million Roman Catholics, Cardinal George bristles at Catholic employers “being forced to offer their employees health coverage that includes sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs, and contraception.”

He also asks his “community of faith” to do two things: “prayer and fasting so that wisdom and justice may prevail.”

Last week, bishops of every Catholic diocese throughout the U.S. were directed to write a letter stating their opposition to the Obama mandate, which they considered a violation of the First Amendment.

Sneed is told internal debates concerning the Obama contraceptive mandate divided the White House’s West Wing. Vice President Joe Biden and then White House chief of staff Bill Daley, both Catholics, warned the president to be cautious, because freedom of religion was the real issue at stake.

On the flip side, female kitchen cabinet members, including U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, stressed the contraceptive side of the argument — not wanting an exception made for religious organizations when it came to contraceptives.

But it is not only the Catholic hierarchy incensed by the new mandate.

Republican presidential candidates have been blasting Obama for his secular vision, and the U.S. Army got involved in a skirmish this week.

† To wit: The U.S. Army Chief of Chaplains issued a directive asking the letter written by Military Services Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio NOT be read at military pulpits because it “could be misinterpreted as a call to civil disobedience within our nation’s military ranks.”

† The upshot: The issue was resolved when Archbishop Broglio agreed to remove the part of the letter Cardinal George included in his directive: “We cannot — we will not — comply with this unjust law.”

† The backshot: Cardinal George is now in Rome reporting to the Pope on the state of his diocese — something each diocesan bishop does every five years.

He will not return to Chicago until Feb. 17.

† The buckshot: “The contraceptive mandate imposed on health plans by the Department of Health and Human Services also violates freedom of conscience,” said a Catholic priest.

“Imagine the impact on a revered Chicago Catholic institution like Misericordia, which is a home to the mentally disabled.”

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