Obama Administration Targets, Bans Catholic Agencies

Tuesday, 01 Nov 2011 09:04 AM

By Newsmax Wires

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The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is threatening legal action against the Obama administration, alleging anti-Catholic bias for pulling the conference’s funding to help victims of human trafficking.

The possibility is the latest salvo in what The Washington Post characterizes as “a contentious battle between Catholic groups and the Obama administration . . . fueled by the new health-care law and ongoing divisions over access to abortion and birth control.”

The dispute over the funding to fight human trafficking, which many contend is akin to modern-day slavery, arose over the recent decision of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to end funding for the conference’s progam.

“The church group had overseen nationwide services to victims since 2006 but was denied a new grant in favor of three other groups,” the Post reports.

“The bishops organization, in line with the church’s teachings, had refused to refer trafficking victims for contraceptives or abortion. The American Civil Liberties Union sued, and HHS officials said they made a policy decision to award the grants to agencies that would refer women for those services,” according to the Post.

Relations already were strained between the government and some Catholics because of several other issues. The bishops have voiced strong opposition to the administration’s decision in February to quit defending the federal law barring the recognition of same-sex marriage. Several Catholic groups also have objected to Obamacare’s mandate that would require private insurers to provide women with contraceptives without charge.

As Newsmax has reported, the bishops have urged the faithful to complain to the administration over the Obamacare mandate on contraceptives.

“On the trafficking contract, senior political appointees at HHS awarded the new grants to the bishops’ competitors despite a recommendation from career staffers that the bishops be funded based on scores by an independent review board, according to federal officials and internal HHS documents,” the Post reported.

Although HHS officials deny any anti-Catholic bias, the Post quotes Sister Mary Ann Walsh as saying, “I think it’s a sad manipulation of a process to promote a pro-abortion agenda.”

Walsh, who is spokeswoman for the bishops conference, contends that the decision reflects an HHS philosophy of “ABC [Anybody But Catholics].’’

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