In the clearest statement of what’s at stake for Catholic employers when it comes to the Obamacare contraception mandate, a leading Catholic cardinal recently said that it is, in fact, a sin for employers to comply with the mandate.
Cardinal Raymond Burke told EWTN’s Thomas McKenna that Catholic employers would not only be guilty of material cooperation with sin, but also formal cooperation because they would knowingly and deliberately be providing employees with contraception:
Thomas McKenna: “So a Catholic employer, really getting down to it, he does not, or she does not provide this because that way they would be, in a sense, cooperating with the sin … the sin of contraception or the sin of providing a contraceptive that would abort a child, is this correct?”
Cardinal Burke: “This is correct. It is not only a matter of what we call “material cooperation” in the sense that the employer by giving this insurance benefit is materially providing for the contraception but it is also “formal cooperation” because he is knowingly and deliberately doing this, making this available to people. There is no way to justify it. It is simply wrong.”
Responding to the comments, [former executive director of HLI America Jenn] Giroux says, “This comment by a high ranking Cardinal is the clearest explanation to date on the issue of an employer’s culpability when providing contraception, sterilization, and abortion inducing drug options in the insurance plans for employees.”
It’s easy to see that this statement might come as a surprise even to the most faithful of Catholics, who are taught that an individual must freely consent to sin to bear full responsibility for it. Under the mandate, do employers really have the freedom not to consent? Cardinal Burke is telling them that, yes, they do. They have the freedom, for example, to get out of whatever business it is they’re running. They have the freedom to not have employees. They have the freedom to ignore the mandate and suffer the legal consequences. Burke’s comments are a hard call to faithfulness to all those Catholic employers who have been outraged by the mandate but might have been tempted to justify their ultimate compliance with it with that perennial of excuses: “I had no choice.” The seriousness of Burke’s words are also a warning to the Obama administration: He is saying that Catholic employers should go out of business before they comply with the mandate. Just as opponents have said from the very beginning, the mandate does, in fact, endanger the very existence of Catholic hospitals, schools and other charitable organizations. The president had better think long and hard about whether contraception coverage is more important to him than broader health care, education and help for the poor.