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Federal mandate rankles Catholic leaders

Bishop Kmiec addresses the press
WBFO News file photo
Bishop Kmiec addresses the press

The leader of the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo is speaking out against a federal mandate that he says jeopardizes religious freedoms.

The US Department of Health and Human Services is calling for all employers to offer health coverage that includes services for sterilization and contraception. Those types of reproductive services are against Catholic teaching. Bishop Edward Kmiec says they cannot and will not comply with what he calls an "unjust law."

Monsignor Paul Burkard is pastor of Our Lady of Victory in Lackawanna. He will work to inform his parishioners.

"We've always been a country that has kind of preserved the right of conscience, and now all of a sudden this particular issue seems to violate that pretty seriously. And in the direction of the Catholic Church in particular, that would be the thing that concerns me the most."

Bishop Kmiec is calling on pastors across the diocese to inform parishioners about this mandate. Letters were distributed this week to all parishes across the eight counties of Western New York. Priests throughout the diocese will be addressing this matter at masses over the weekend.

The federal government says employers would have one year to comply.