Chicago Archbishop Cardinal Francis George, back in town after a visit to Rome, has doubled down on his contempt for the Obama administration's call for faith-based employers to cover their female employees' birth control costs.
George on Saturday called for the mandate to be rescinded as he said it will have the long-term effect that "the Catholic church would be stripped of the institutions that are her instrument for public service," CBS Chicago reports.
"We will lose hospitals. We will lose universities. We will lose our institutions," the cardinal continued.
George, formerly the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued a scathing letter on the matter that was read at many of the city's Catholic masses earlier this month. The letter contended that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' mandate "seemingly ignored the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, denying to Catholics our Nation’s first and most fundamental freedom, that of religious liberty."
The new rule, set forth by the Affordable Care Act, allows most women employed in the U.S. to have the cost of their birth control covered with no co-pay. The ruling "jolted" conservative religious groups and the Obama administration announced a new "accommodation" earlier this month that would pass the cost of contraception coverage onto health insurance companies in the event that a religious institution objects to footing the bill.
That compromise has not satisfied George, however.
He maintains that "the concern of the conference is not contraception or sterilization or paying for abortion-inducing pills as such," ABC Chicago reports.
"The larger issue here is whether or not the government can tell what is a Catholic institution and we're part of the church here's what you must do in order to be part of our society," the cardinal told ABC.
George further hinted that a lawsuit on the matter could be coming down the pike, as part of "a long conversation" going forward between the Catholic Church and Obama administration, the Chicago Tribune reports.
WATCH "Chicago Tonight" take on the contraception mandate issue: