They're calling themselves Pilgrims, and they're walking 100 miles across Maryland this week, in the 2012 Religious Freedom Walk. "We're going to walk from Hancock, to on the towpath, the Historic Canal, the first day, then the 2nd day, through Clear Spring, and then the 3rd day, up South Mountain to Middletown," said Father John Lombardi, the Pastor of St. Peters Catholic Church, in Hancock, Md. "We will arrive in downtown Frederick, at St. John's Church, for an overnight stay, on Tuesday night, and will then continue our walk on Wednesday, as we head to the Basilica, in Baltimore, Md."
The effort is to stand up against what Catholics say is government infringing on their religious freedom. "For Catholics who are not for contraception's and sterilizations, we are for a natural, organic way of promoting life. The Federal Government say this is part of health care and this is not true and we want to express and practice our religion," continued Father Lombardi.
Lombardi said already some Catholic colleges have withdrawn insurance for their students because of federal mandates including contraception.
One of the key issues is a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ directive that nearly all employer health care plans - including Catholic universities and hospitals - must provide birth control and certain other medical services. The church says this requirement would include sterilizations and drugs that could cause abortions. A narrow exemption for churches exists, but moral and religious First Amendment objections continue to be issued by Catholic dioceses, universities, hospitals and charitable institutions now suing the federal government over the matter, as well as other Christian and Jewish groups.