Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, urged members of the U.S. House of Representatives to support the Health Care Conscience Rights Act of 2013 introduced by Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) on March 4th.
O’Malley, who is one of the American cardinals thought to be a potential contender for the papacy, or papabili, released a letter Monday, the day before the start of the conclave to elect the next pope. The letter urges conscience rights at a time when “they are under greatly increased pressure” due to the HHS mandate, the provision of President Obama’s signature health care legislation that requires most employers to provide free contraception, sterilization, and abortifacients to employees through health insurance plans.
As Chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, allow me this opportunity to place before you a concern with regard to religious freedom and the right of conscience. These are foundational to our American experiment, and they have allowed people of diverse faiths and belief systems to make their own unique contribution to the common good for two centuries.
The cardinal continued:
Doctors, nurses and other health professionals, as well, have reason today to fear that their ability to serve others in accord with their values will not be well defended in our nation’s laws or in our judicial system…Providers of health care, as well as those who offer or purchase insurance, should not face an unacceptable choice between preserving their religious and moral integrity or participating in our health care system.
With the focus on the papal conclave and on several American cardinals, such as O’Malley and New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan, as papabili, the social media firm ECCE Customer, which specializes in social-media activity, has kept track of that surrounding the cardinals. The firm found that O’Malley saw the sharpest increase in social media traffic in the days immediately preceding the conclave.