USCCB News Release
March 27, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Regulations in keeping with laws protecting conscience, says bishop
Says government does not give, and cannot take away, human rights
Calls on lay people to be voices of the Church today
Bishop Murphy Says Conscience Protection Necessary to Protect Human Rights
WASHINGTON—Conscience protection is necessary to protect human rights, said Bishop William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre, N.Y., in a March 24 interview with Catholic News Service. Bishop Murphy, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), addressed the Obama Administration's move to rescind a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regulation guaranteeing conscience protections for health care workers and institutions.
Taking back the regulations "raises a real issue, because the statutes are intended to protect human rights – rights of conscience and rights of freedom of religion," Bishop Murphy said. "So why should everyone be concerned about this? Because if one person's rights can be compromised, everybody's rights can be compromised."
Bishop Murphy called it a fallacy that any government gives rights.
"There's a real problem in that kind of thinking" said Bishop Murphy. "The government did not give us rights and the government is acting wrongly if it attempts to try to regulate rights in the sense of compromising anyone's rights. All the government can do is foster and guarantee and defend rights. Otherwise it's a false government."
Bishop Murphy also noted that it is important for lay people to be informed about conscience protection and recognize the need to make their voices heard.
"The bishops by themselves cannot do it," said Bishop Murphy. "The lay men and women of our churches, of our parishes and dioceses across the country have to be the voices of the Catholic Church today. Their voice is stronger than ours in many instances because they are the constituents, because they vote and because the politicians know they need the votes to be re-elected."
The full text of Bishop Murphy's interview is available on the USCCB Web site at http://www.usccb.org/conscienceprotection/conscience_qanda.shtml and the Web site of Catholic News Service at http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0901384.htm.