The Archdiocese of Atlanta filed a federal lawsuit on Wednesday, seeking to block the Health and Human Services' healthcare mandate.
A statement released by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese on Wednesday says the mandate "unconstitutionally attempts to define the nature of the church's religious ministry and would force religious employers to violate their consciences."
Archbishop of Atlanta Wilton Gregory says the stakes are high for "religious liberty."
According to the statement, the archdiocese is filing the lawsuit because "the federal government is requiring religious organizations, under penalty of law, to provide, pay for, and/or facilitate access to abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception in violation of their sincerely held religious beliefs."
In an interview with FOX 5's Portia Bruner, Gregory stressed that the lawsuit is not a political statement. He said that the lawsuit is only to block that specific mandate of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
"The Catholic bishops of the United States have been in favor of universal healthcare for almost 100 years. We're on record supporting that. And we realize that, in the public arena, some of those medical services would not fall as part of our religious heritage. We would oppose that. We're not trying to say don't provide them. We're simply saying don't make us pay for that which we find contrary to our moral position," said Gregory.
Gregory said that an exemption provided by the government doesn't apply because the church doesn't qualify.
"The exemption that was offered says, well, if a third party -- a third entity -- is involved, then they can pay for it and then your consciences aren't violated. It doesn't work when you are the insurer, when you own the policy," said Wilton.
The Christ the King Catholic School, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Atlanta and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Savannah are also plaintiffs in the lawsuit.