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Catholic Churches Distribute Letters Opposing Obama Healthcare Rule

George Doyle/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Catholic parishioners around the country were read letters Sunday morning written by church leaders railing against an Obama administration ruling that requires employers to provide health insurance plans that include free contraceptives.

Churches and other houses of worship are exempt from the guidelines but Catholic hospitals, colleges and social services fall under the umbrella of institutions covered by the decision.

Originally introduced last summer, the decision was lauded by abortion rights supporters.  But Catholicism considers some forms of contraception as the termination of life and religious leaders say adherence would fly in the face of the tenets of their faith. Critics also charge it would be a violation of the Constitutional right to freedom of religion.

The letters were penned by individual clergy, so variations exist in what was read at each Sunday Mass, but the overall theme is unified.

One letter from the Archdiocese of Washington says, “Catholic moral teachings will be placed in the untenable position of having to choose between violating the law and violating their conscience.”

In another from the Diocese of Phoenix, a bishop calls on Catholics to stand united against the rule.

“We cannot -- we will not -- comply with this unjust law,” it reads. “People of faith cannot be made second class citizens.”

Nearly all the letters found by ABC News called on parishioners to pray for a reversal.

Earlier this month, religious institutions were given a year extension to comply with the administration's decision.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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