Catholic Leaders Criticize Obama, Birth Control Rules During Mass

11:43 PM, Feb 5, 2012   |    comments
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Our Lady of Pompeii Roman Catholic Church Pastor Leon Bienart.

LANCASTER, N.Y. - Catholics across the country heard something unusual at mass this weekend regarding a decision by the Obama Administration involving birth control.

Sunday, 2 On Your Side was invited to mass at Our Lady of Pompeii Roman Catholic Church in Lancaster, where the pastor's stinging critique drew a standing ovation.

"Something big is going on, and by now you should know what it is," said Pastor Leon Bienart during his homily.

Bienart was referring to the decision by the Obama Administration requiring religious employers to provide health insurance that covers contraceptives, including the "morning-after" pill.

This weekend, church leaders nationwide vowed to fight it, arguing it violates their First Amendment religious freedom.

"President Obama is telling our Catholic institutions that serve this nation well in hospitals and schools and charitable organizations," Bienart said. "President Obama is telling our Catholic Institutions to provide and pay for what we find morally and religiously wrong. President Obama has lied to us. He has lied to us."

Bienart was referencing the President's 2009 speech at the University of Notre Dame, where told Catholics that, regarding his health care reforms, "Let's honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion, and draft a sensible conscience clause."

The President's regulation does exempt church employees, just not workers at other Catholic institutions, like hospitals, universities and charities.

"I believe the state and the federal government should not be able to tell the Roman Catholic people what to do," Parishioner Barbara Bordonara said.

Father Bienart ended his homily by saying that he did not intend to bring politics to the pulpit, but that politics had thrust itself into the church with the new regulation.

"I am Father Leon Biernat and I do approve of this message," he concluded, and was greeted to a 20-second standing ovation from parishioners.

The regulation has drawn applause from women's groups, who argue it will reduce the number of abortions. A White House spokesperson said the regulation is "an effective balance between religious beliefs and increased access to important preventative services."

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