Five years ago, the University filed suit in response to a mandate from the Department of Health and Human Services that we provide morally objectionable services to our community, including contraception, sterilization procedures, and abortifacients. As I previously stated, this was our last recourse in the face of such a burden on our religious exercise.
America has a rich tradition of protecting our religious freedom, including that of Catholic universities to organize their operations in accord with their religious beliefs. Catholic University has enjoyed that freedom for more than 130 years. I am pleased to share today that we have settled the litigation on terms that give us the freedom to provide health care to our employees in a manner consistent with our religious beliefs. The conditions of the settlement provide for what the government’s accommodation did not. This includes the University having no involvement in funding or communications regarding services we find objectionable.
It is reasonable to wonder about whether this settlement, along with the newly published regulations, which reverse the mandate and recognize the liberty of objecting employers, can be changed back in a future administration. There are no guarantees in any judicial or regulatory processes, but the settlement recognizes our right to challenge any such laws in the future.
This lawsuit and its conclusion will be an important chapter in our University’s history. We were founded to be both “thoroughly Catholic and thoroughly American.” Today we celebrate that we still have the freedom to be both.