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Diocese files suit in federal court over insurance mandates

FORT WAYNE – The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend on Monday joined more than 40 Roman Catholic entities around the nation in taking to court long-standing complaints about President Obama's insurance-coverage mandates.

Arguing that the mandates are unconstitutional because they infringe on religious freedom, the diocese filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana in Fort Wayne, said the Rev. Kevin C. Rhoades, diocesan bishop, at a news conference Monday .

The University of Notre Dame filed a similar suit in federal court in South Bend on Monday. It is also in the diocese.

Rhoades said lobbying Congress and the White House to alter or drop the mandate had failed.

"So now a number of our dioceses, Catholic schools and universities, Catholic health systems and Catholic charitable institutions are pursuing the judicial route," he said.

Legal actions "are spreading across the country," Rhoades said.

Also listed as plaintiffs in the local lawsuit are the University of Saint Francis, Catholic Charities, the Franciscan Alliance Inc., Saint Anne Home & Retirement Community and Our Sunday Visitor in Huntington.

At issue is the health reform mandate requiring most employers to pay to cover services that are contrary to Catholic teaching, including birth control, abortion and sterilization.

For more on this story see Tuesday's print edition of The Journal Gazette or return to after 3 a.m. Tuesday.