Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput’s political statements surrounding President Obama began well before the Catholic leader ever came to Philadelphia.

“Americans, including many Catholics, elected a gifted man to fix an economic crisis,” he told a Toronto, Canada crowd in February 2009. “That’s the mandate. They gave nobody a mandate to retool American culture on the issues of marriage and the family, sexuality, bioethics, religion in public life and abortion. That retooling could easily happen, and it clearly will happen — but only if Catholics and other religious believers allow it.”

According to Chaput and many other socially conservative leaders across the country, Obama has “retooled” our culture and there are numerous examples everyday, from gay marriage rulings to health care mandates.

Chaput’s biggest gripe with Obama, however (especially since he came to Philly in 2011) has been Obamacare. Specifically, the part that mandates birth control. And he’s not alone.

Numerous businesses, archdioceses and dioceses around the country have sued the administration over the birth control mandate—often referred to as the HHS mandate. And as of Monday, you can add another one to the list: the Chaput-led Archdiocese of Philadelphia, who are seeking relief from the HHS mandate.

“The regulations of the health care reform law require all organizations that provide employees with health care coverage to also include contraception, sterilization procedures and potentially abortion-causing drugs, all of which violate Catholic Church teaching on the sanctity of human life,” according to Catholic Philly.

The suit is grounded in the First Amendment of the Constitution and would focus on allowing “religious employers”—those charities and non-profits associated with the church—to deny their employees basic contraceptive services as part of their health care plan, even if it’s provided by a third-party organization.

The Archdiocese’s suit should come as no surprise. Unlike the people throughout Philadelphia and its suburbs—who have overwhelmingly supported Obama twice during election years—the Philadelphia Catholic Church and Chaput have regularly railed against this presidential administration, often tying themselves to large, national issues.

When Chaput came to Philly, it was largely to help the flailing church and clean up the mess created by child sex abuse scandals that’d been plaguing church officials and clergy. In 2012 alone, Catholics watched as Monsignor William Lynn went on trial and defrocked priest Edward Avery pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting an altar boy. As this was going on, four of the Archdiocese’s 17 Catholic high schools were closing, as were 44 of its 156 regional or elementary schools. Churches, too, watched as attendance dwindled.

Chaput answered these statistics in a strange way: Calling for school vouchers, an oft-conservative political idea to fix broken school systems by giving cash to students to attend the school of their choice, including religious ones.

It was also a presidential election year. And Chaput had been working on a 99-cent e-book titled “Heart on Fire: Catholic Witness and the Next America,” which served as something of a screed against President Obama and the HHS mandate. When Obama proposed a compromise (requiring healthcare companies, not religious employers, to provide birth control to religious employer employees), the Church continued to maintain they were being required to cooperate in providing procedures and drugs which were considered sinful. Chaput would write in the e-book that attempts at so-called “compromises” was “part of a pattern” and “not an isolated incident.”

“The America emerging in the next several decades is likely to be much less friendly to Christian faith than anything in our country’s past. And that poses a challenge for all of us as Catholics,” he continued. Chaput promoted his book on Dom Giordano’s local conservative radio show.

Now, with those grievances in mind, the Archdiocese says it cannot sign forms allowing the third-party provider to offer the “objectionable services” to employees of Catholic charities affiliated with the Archdiocese, and would, therefore, be fined $100 per day, per subscriber.

According to Catholic Philly: “With 1,600 subscribers in the archdiocesan health care plan, Catholic Charities’ fines would amount to $160,000 per day. In only six months, the fines would reach nearly $1 million.” Compromise, it seems, is out of the question.

About The Author

Staff writer

Randy LoBasso is the winner of the Pennsylvania Newsmedia Association's 2014 Distinguished Writing Award for his news and politics coverage at Philadelphia Weekly. He has also contributed to Alt Ledes, Salon, The Guardian and PennLive.

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