Bishop David Zubik

Bishop David Zubik

February 6, 2012

A week after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services told individuals and institutions who oppose contraception "to hell with you," as one bishop put it, members of the U.S. Catholic hierarchy were mobilizing their followers to fight.

Bishops across the U.S. wrote letters to be read at all Jan. 28-29 Masses.

One of the most strongly worded reactions to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius' Jan. 20 announcement that religious organizations could delay but not opt out of a requirement that all health plans cover contraception and sterilization at no cost came from Bishop David Zubik of Pittsburgh, in a column titled "To hell with you."

Sebelius and the Obama administration "have said 'To hell with you' to the Catholic faithful of the United States," Zubik wrote.

"To hell with your religious beliefs. To hell with your religious liberty. To hell with your freedom of conscience. We'll give you a year, they are saying, and then you have to knuckle under."

He called on Catholics in the Pittsburgh Diocese to "do all possible to rescind" the contraceptive mandate.

They should write to President Barack Obama, Sebelius and their members of Congress about this "unprecedented federal interference in the right of Catholics to serve their community without violating their fundamental moral beliefs," Zubik wrote.

Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria, Ill., enlisted the aid of St. Michael the Archangel in fighting "this unprecedented governmental assault upon the moral convictions of our faith."