Prelates raise concern over Trump decision to keep Obama executive order


(CNS) — The chairmen of two bishops’ committees expressed disappointment Feb. 1 over President Donald Trump’s decision to retain a 2014 executive order by his
predecessor, Barack Obama, that bans federal discrimination on the basis of
sexual orientation and gender identity against federal employees and workers
for federal government contractors.

action is “troubling and disappointing” said Archbishop Charles J.
Chaput of Philadelphia, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family
Life and Youth, and Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the USCCB Ad Hoc
Committee for Religious Liberty.

executive order, they said in a joint statement, is “deeply flawed.” In a July
21, 2014, statement, Archbishop Lori and Archbishop Chaput’s predecessor as committee chair,
Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo, New York, labeled the executive order “unprecedented
and extreme and should be opposed.”

In the
2014 statement, Archbishop Lori and Bishop Malone said the term “sexual
orientation” was “undefined,” and that “gender identity” was “predicated on the
false idea that ‘gender’ is nothing more than a social construct or
psychological reality that can be chosen at variance from one’s biological sex.”

added, “Even contractors that disregard sexual inclination in employment face
the possibility of exclusion from federal contracting if their employment
policies or practices reflect religious or moral objections to extramarital
sexual conduct.”

The two prelates urged Obama to include a religious exemption. Fourteen other religious leaders also asked for such an exemption in a letter to Obama so that “protection for one group would not come at the expense of faith communities” who religious beliefs motivate them to serve.

Father Larry Snyder, then Catholic
Charities USA president, was one of the 14 leaders who signed a letter to the president. He told Catholic News Service he was among religious leaders who then met
with White House staff to discuss the executive order before it was issued. The priest said later the order upheld “already existing religious exemptions, that will allow us to maintain fidelity to our deeply held religious beliefs.”

In their Feb. 1 statement, Archbishops
Chaput and Lori said, “The church steadfastly opposes all unjust
discrimination, and we need to continue to advance justice and fairness in the workplace,”
but the Obama executive order “creates problems rather than solves them,” adding that
it instead “creates new forms of discrimination against people of faith.”

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