The Archdiocese of New York is suing the Obama administration to block the mandate requiring employers to provide health insurance that includes birth control for workers.
"We have to, and we don't want that to happen," Cardinal Timothy Dolan told NBC 4 New York Monday. "We're somewhat at our wits' end."
The plan has ignited an uproar from faith leaders because it includes most religious nonprofits, like hospitals, churches and colleges.
Dolan said unless the Obama administration blocks the requirement, the Catholic church will have no choice but to stop serving the needy.
The archdiocese has filed suit in federal court in Brooklyn, part of a movement across the nation Monday as other Catholic dioceses, institutes and organizations file similar actions.
The lawsuits filed in federal courts across the country represent the largest push against the mandate since President Barack Obama announced the policy in January.
The original exemption for religious groups allowed houses of worship to opt out, but keeps the requirement in place for religiously affiliated charities.
"Is it the duty, is it the right of the federal government to define for a church its ministry and its ministers?" said Dolan. "That's where we got the problem."
Obama offered to soften the rule so that insurers would pay for birth control instead of religious groups. However, the bishops say the accommodation doesn't go far enough.
"It just seems any accommodation that's been offered seems to lack the substance it'll need to make this work," said Dolan.
The archdiocese in New York said the suit is being filed because the government is requiring it to "provide, pay for and/or facilitate access to services" that are contrary to its beliefs.
"Time is running out, and our precious ministries and fundamental rights hang in the balance, so we have to resort to the courts now," Dolan said.
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