Catholic bishop blasts new version of HHS mandate

posted at 2:51 pm on February 5, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops responded on Friday to the new HHS contraception mandate language by pledging to review it.  One of their members has already found it unacceptable.  Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia writes that despite its offer of compromise, the new language actually makes the problem worse for Catholic organizations:

White House apologists and supporters have welcomed the proposal.  The New York Times called it “a good compromise.”  Groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and NARAL Prochoice America have praised it.  And at least one Washington Post  columnist implausibly called it a victory for America’s Catholic bishops.

The trouble is, the new rules are very complex.  And they may actually make things worse.  In the words of Notre Dame Law Professor Gerard Bradley:

“Gauging the net effect of the new administration proposal [is] hazardous.  But one can say with confidence the following: (1) religious hospitals are, as before, not exempt ‘religious employers’; (2) religious charities are very likely  not  exempt either, unless they are run out of a church  or are very tightly integrated with a church.  So, a parish or  even a diocese’s Saint Vincent De Paul operations would probably be an exempt ‘religious employer,’ whereas Catholic Charities would not be; (3) the new proposal may (or may not) make it more likely that parish grade schools are exempt ‘religious employers.’  But Catholic high schools are a different matter.  Some might qualify as ‘religious
employers.’  Most probably will not.

“It is certain that Catholic colleges and universities do not qualify as exempt ‘religious employers.’  The new proposal includes, however, a revised ‘accommodation’ for at least some of these institutions, as well as some hospitals and charities.  The proposal refines the administration’s earlier efforts to somehow insulate the colleges and universities from immoral complicity in contraception, mainly by shifting — at least nominally – the cost and administration of the immoral services to either the health insurance issuer (think Blue Cross) or to the plan administrator (for self-insured entities, such as Notre Dame).  This proposal adds some additional layering to the earlier attempts to insulate the schools, but nothing of decisive moral significance is included.”

Chaput also points out that the new language does nothing to address the protection of religious conscience for Christian business owners who want to live their faith in their work, either.  Some had suggested that the USCCB might be satisfied to gain protection for Catholic organizations, but Chaput signals that the bishops are concerned about the broader implications of religious liberty and the attempt by the Obama administration to redefine religious expression to just worship in churches, synagogues, and temples.

Chaput doesn’t speak for the USCCB as a whole, but he gives a hint as to where he sees the bishops heading with this latest “compromise”:

One of the issues America’s bishops now face is how best to respond to an HHS mandate that remains unnecessary, coercive and gravely flawed.  In the weeks ahead the bishops of our country, myself included, will need both prudence and courage – the kind of courage that gives prudence spine and results in right action, whatever the cost.  Please pray that God guides our discussions.

It doesn’t sound as if the USCCB will be retreating on this, or agreeing that this is a compromise at all.

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Comment pages: 1 2

One doesn’t leave what he should believe is the true faith (not merely another “denomination”), because of other’s failures to live up to it, unless one is also willing to jump out of an perfectly fine airplane because the stewardess is inebriated.

Don L on February 6, 2013 at 10:34 AM

Leaving the Catholic Church is not leaving the Christian faith, no matter how much you’ve been brainwashed to the contrary.

The entire institution has been exposed as flawed in the worst possible ways – from buggering altar boys to supporting Marxism. That is more than enough reason to tell Mr.Pointy Hat “later, ‘gater”.

MelonCollie on February 6, 2013 at 2:54 PM

Some of my good friends, fellow Catholics and strong conservatives, often speak up about their displeasure with the liberal drumbeat in entertainment and news media, academia, etc.

But they don’t seem to see the preference for socialism amongst our own bishops, priests and Catholic media. They don’t seem to want to acknowledge the decades of agitating for bigger, more intrusive government, or the equivocation in the area of political tyranny vs. religious and economic freedom.

Many (most?) of our Catholic leaders consistently provide moral cover for pro-abortion socialists. They want the socialized medicine and they don’t really mind too much whatever comes along with it.

I wish I could say that over the past year Catholic pulpits have been reverberating with messages of life and religious liberty. I think most Catholics would have to agree that’s just not been the case.

I’d like to hear, just once, the other side of the ‘helping the poor’ coin… I’d like to hear one of our leaders question the morality of raising our neighbors’ taxes. There’s plenty there to consider, but it’s just not in our leadership to present anything which tends to discredit socialist philosophy.

Why not make a case for the validity of scripture? Our church has never really made a case to the culture at large refuting the bogus claims of the DaVinci Code, which has been an excuse for so many to turn away. We seem indifferent to both the Gospel and liberty.

Certainly reason enough to reevaluate.

shinty on February 6, 2013 at 10:58 PM

That is more than enough reason to tell Mr.Pointy Hat “later, ‘gater”.

I tend to like the guy in the pointy hat.

But I have to admit, if he has much inclination to impact American culture (I don’t know why he wouldn’t) in support of life and religious liberty, he’s really been a non-factor.

There are ways to persuade – TV, radio, print media, etc., – to reach the culture at large. (Independent Catholic groups sending e-mail videos to their mailing lists of the already converted don’t count as impacting the overall culture.)

shinty on February 6, 2013 at 11:11 PM

I wish I could say that over the past year Catholic pulpits have been reverberating with messages of life and religious liberty. I think most Catholics would have to agree that’s just not been the case.

I don’t agree. This has not been my experience, and I attend Masses in *Chicago* for crying out loud.

Kensington on February 6, 2013 at 11:38 PM

The Catholic church is a philosophy and religion without the walls and boundaries of governments, they are onlookers. This is a blessing and a curse from a pragmatic point of view, and there is really no one political point of view, there are only noisy groups claiming to speak for them. Many who lead the church are not American. What is universal and human and charitable, translates badly into political ideas because the countries are not all the same. And Catholics in America are not all the same, you will just have to believe me, that political opinions run the whole spectrum, and you very well might find a catholic in favor of pro life who thinks the government should provide food clothing and shelter, as well as those who know the difference between government largesse and charity. You will have to believe we are not TOLD what to think politically, we have free will and conscience and choose our own political views. Many of the issues of the day conflict our religious morals with political ones, and where the church has tried to run charitable hospitals they have been overwhelmed by the government. It is good to see them take a step back, they really are not “of government.” They are also, not responsible for the maintenance of the American Constitution, we citizens are, but the church is not. That is hard for people who think otherwise, or enjoy political parties made up of only people from their church like many Non denominational American Christians do, our social teaching is moral but not interpreted in political speech. That is how you survive the ages of kings and dictators and communist regimes (John Paul)…intact.

Fleuries on February 7, 2013 at 9:34 AM

I am against any “fix” that lets the Catholic Church off the hook. The Catholic Church has nutured and supported liberal policies for decades; it deserves what is happening to it under Obamacare.

Hey Bishops, did you ever notice Jesus never suggested using Ceasar to enforce “charitable” acts? Speak out against the evil of using government force to enforce “charitable” acts and I’ll believe you learned your lesson.

Over50 on February 8, 2013 at 12:10 PM

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