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Bishop: Contraception tiff impacts liberty

April 8, 2012 at 2:38 PM

WASHINGTON, April 8 (UPI) -- A Roman Catholic bishop said Sunday the church was being punished unfairly for its refusal to provide health insurance for its employees to cover contraception.

Bishop William Lori said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that the church was being dinged by federal regulations at the same time it was trying to help people in the secular world.

"If you are only serving your own and hiring your own and inculcating your own doctrine, you are exempt," Lori said. "But the minute you serve the common good, which is what all of our organization do, then you are not exempt. Then you have to provide, fund or facilitate services that are contrary to the church's teachings."

Lori disagreed that the argument was a "theological debate" and said the requirement was clearly about the church's liberty to not pay for contraception being impinged. "We have that freedom now and we have had it for generations," he said. "Our teachings have been accommodated, but now they are not being accommodated."

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., told NBC he saw the conflict as a minor disagreement being massaged into an epic election-year battle. "I think people exaggerate certain positions in order to help themselves politically," said Cleaver, who is an ordained minister. "There is no war on religion in this country."

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