Hundreds of Catholics in South Florida demonstrated Saturday against the controversial provision in the recently enacted U.S. health-care reform that requires employers, including religious institutions, to offer medical insurance that covers contraceptives.

The protest was held at St. Thomas University in Miami, with the participation of the archbishop of this city, Thomas Wenski, who filed suit on Friday against the regulation, alleging that it violates freedom of religion.

As in other U.S. cities, some 500 people, according to the organizers, protested Saturday against the controversial requirement.

Wenski told the crowd he was against the rule because in his opinion it is an attack on religious freedom and explained the reasons why he filed suit.

In his opinion, "the state is trying to dictate to the church how we practice our faith," and the government of President Barack Obama should not force religious organizations to provide medical products and procedures that go against the teachings of the Catholic Church.

The regulation was announced last January as part of the health-care reform known as the Affordable Care Act - or Obamacare. It was, however, later modified under pressure from the Catholic Church.

It now allows "religious objections" to be used in certain cases to avoid offering contraceptive coverage to employees - parishes will be exempt from implementing the measure and other Catholic organizations like hospitals and universities will have a transition period until August 2013 to apply it.

The archbishop said that "if we can rescind the mandate, we will be able to maintain our freedom to serve in ways that are congruent with our Catholic identity and our Catholic principles, and therefore (the rule) will not present us with an obstacle that could in fact jeopardize our individual salvation."

The lawsuit has been filed against Health Secretary Kathleen Sibelius, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. EFE