The archbishop of the Archdiocese of St. Louis in Missouri is putting his foot down in defiance of a city ordinance that criminalizes "discrimination" against advocates of abortion.
The Most Reverend Robert J. Carlson stated the church and other entities affiliated with it will not abide by the ordinance.
"Let me be perfectly clear: the Archdiocese of St. Louis and its affiliated agencies and ministries will not comply with ... this oppressive law," he said, according to LifeSiteNews.
Carlson refers to the ordinance as a "vile bill" that shows how the city has welcomed "the culture of death."
Ordinance 70459, passed in February, prohibits employers "to fail or refuse to hire, to discharge or otherwise to discriminate against any individuals with respect to compensation or the terms, conditions or privileges of employment, because of their reproductive health decisions."
For the Archdiocese of St. Louis, this presents a problematic situation especially in the 112 elementary schools that it operates. Complying with the ordinance would compromise the schools' adherence to biblical teachings.
According to the ordinance, the schools "could not refuse to hire and could not discipline religion teachers who publicly support abortion in or out of the classroom, even though it is a grave sin under Catholic teaching," a spokesperson for the archdiocese told LifeSiteNews.
On May 22, Carlson, along with the agencies affiliated with the archdiocese, filed a lawsuit challenging the ordinance. The lawsuit was filed through the nonprofit law firm Thomas More Society.
Sarah Pitlyk, special counsel for the law firm, said the ordinance "creates a protected class defined not by any immutable characteristics such as race or gender, but by social opinion," St. Louis Review reported.
"It violates fundamental constitutional freedoms and multiple state laws," Pitlyk said. "We are asking the federal court to declare the ordinance invalid and to free all St. Louis citizens from the threat of criminal punishment for doing nothing more than exercising their constitutional rights."
Our Lady's Inn, an agency run by the archdiocese that provides shelter to homeless pregnant women and helps them find employment, housing and education for their children, would be forced to house women who are planning to have an abortion.
"This forces us to be complicit in that decision," Peggy Forest, the agency's president and executive director, said, according to St. Louis Review.
She added that since the ordinance was implemented, women have come to them to pretending to need the agency's services but were actually just testing to see if they will violate the legislation. This takes up their precious time from those who really need to be catered by Our Lady's Inn.
"The potential is really large, since the passage of this ordinance, that women either pretending to need services or knowing full well they don't want the services that we provide will engage us just to see if they can catch us in violating the ordinance," Forrest said. "It's insincere and takes up time for women who really are interested in our services."
Carlson asked the public to support him in his efforts to promote and protect "children, women, families, and life itself."
"In this invitation, I echo the words of Pope St. John Paul II: 'Life will be victorious!'"