Skip to comments.US Catholics dismayed by Obama administration ruling
Posted on 01/22/2012 12:43:55 PM PST by narses
Catholics in the United States have reacted with dismay after the Obama administration turned down repeated requests from Catholic bishops, hospitals, schools and charitable organisations to revise its religious exemption to the requirement that all health plans cover contraceptives and sterilisation free of charge.
Instead, Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services, announced yesterday that non-profit groups that do not provide contraceptive coverage because of their religious beliefs will get an additional year to adapt to this new rule.
This decision was made after very careful consideration, including the important concerns some have raised about religious liberty, Mrs Sebelius said. I believe this proposal strikes the appropriate balance between respecting religious freedom and increasing access to important preventive services.
But Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), said the Obama administration had drawn an unprecedented line in the sand with the decision.
The Catholic bishops are committed to working with our fellow Americans to reform the law and change this unjust regulation, he added. We will continue to study all the implications of this troubling decision.
Mrs Sebelius announced the mandate and a narrow religious exemption to it on August 1, 2011. Under the plan, after August 1 this year, new or significantly altered health plans will be required to provide all Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptives, including some that can cause abortions, without co-pays or deductibles as part of preventive health care for women.
The only religious organisations exempt from the requirement would be those meeting four specific criteria: (1) has the inculcation of religious values as its purpose; (2) primarily employs persons who share its religious tenets; (3) primarily serves persons who share its religious tenets; and (4) is a non-profit organisation under specific sections of the Internal Revenue Code.
Those sections refer to churches, their integrated auxiliaries, and conventions or associations of churches, as well as to the exclusively religious activities of any religious orders, according to a footnote to the interim final rule.
Catholic groups, including the USCCB, the Catholic Health Association and Catholic Charities USA, called that exemption too narrow, saying it would require Catholic groups to stop all services to those who were not Catholic and would inappropriately involve the government in decisions about whether an organisation is religious enough to be exempted.
Mrs Sebeliuss announcement prompted an outcry from Catholic leaders and a sigh of relief from groups such as Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America, which had opposed any moves to weaken the contraceptive mandate or strengthen the religious exemption.
In a video posted on the USCCB website, Cardinal-designate Dolan said the decision put the Obama administration on the wrong side of the Constitution and should be rescinded.
In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences, the cardinal-designate said in a separate statement. To force American citizens to choose between violating their consciences and forgoing their health care is literally unconscionable. It is as much an attack on access to health care as on religious freedom. Historically this represents a challenge and a compromise of our religious liberty.
Franciscan Sister Jane Marie Klein, who chairs the board at Franciscan Alliance, a system of 13 Catholic hospitals, characterised the decision as nothing else than a direct attack on religion and First Amendment rights.
Sister Carol Keehan, a Daughter of Charity who is president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association, said the announcement was a missed opportunity to be clear on appropriate conscience protection.
The challenge that these regulations posed for many groups remains unresolved, she said. This indicates the need for an effective national conversation on the appropriate conscience protections in our pluralistic country, which has always respected the role of religions.
Fr Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA, said he was extremely disappointed that the administration chose to ignore calls from religious institutions to broaden the exemption.
With the existing restrictive definition in this mandate, the ministry of Jesus Christ himself would not be considered a religious entity, he said.
Just as the identity of Catholic Charities is firmly rooted in the teaching of its Church, the identity of this nation includes a mandated respect of religious beliefs, Fr Snyder added. It is this long-standing history that gave us hope that as a religious institution we would be granted the freedom to remain faithful to our beliefs while also being committed to providing access to quality health care for our 70,000 employees and their families across the country.
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I’m sure the Catholics who voted for Obama don’t mind.
WHEN is Sebelius going to be excommunicated by the Vatican?
Actually they do, many of them believed (falsely) that their support could ensure a religious exemption. More foolish than I thought possible, but it happened. Now they are in shock and screaming. It is another core constituency that Obummer has lost. Deo Gratias!
It’s a constituency he never should have had. I don’t understand how catholics can vote for democrats.
She is being generous and giving Catholics another year to accept the inevitable. In other words another thing put off until after the election.
Hopefully after that election sanity will return to Government.
Elect Obama and this will just be the start .She and Napolitano, the EPA the Justice Department will run wild.
“I dont understand how catholics can vote for democrats.”
It is a long, sad story. The GOP has had too many rabid anti-Catholic nasties over the generations. James Blaine leaps to mind, the GOP/KKK alliance does as well. Ancient history now, but it created generations of loyal dems.
That would be the job of *her* local Ordinary, i.e., bishop or archbishop, as I understand.
if there were all real Catholics up in the north then obama would lose all those states but it seems that many up there are just Catholic in name only sadly.
Time for the church’s to mentions this seeing as this admin can go to church’s and put down Republicans
IMO, the Republican have to change this mindset.
I’m not Catholic, so perhaps it’s not my place to criticize, but . . . when did that every stop anyone from criticizing the Church? It bugs me more than I can express that Catholics were Newt’s weakest demographic, supporting pro-abortion Romney over either Santorum or Newt. It bugs me more than I can express that Catholics support Obama. Why does the Roman Catholic Church fall so short when it comes to the past five decades of politics? I expected better from them. Or did the other side hone their message to split confused or poorly informed Catholics from the Church? When is the Pope going to respond in an effective manner, by changing how the Church teaches doctrine so that people understand, rather than just reiterating that doctrine?
If she were to be excommunicated by anyone formally it would be her bishop and not the Vatican. The Vatican will leave it to her bishop because he’s the one responsible.
“When is the Pope going to respond in an effective manner, by changing how the Church teaches doctrine so that people understand, rather than just reiterating that doctrine?”
Pray tell what is effective? He’s in the Vatican. He can only do so much.
I dont understand how catholics can vote for democrats.
Nor do I. But, neither can I understand how folks can go to church and shout, dance, clap, sing and “get in the Spirit” on Sunday and then go into the voting booth on Tuesday and vote for a candidate and/or Party who espouses killing little babies and same-sex marriage. Whassup with that?
History. Most of the Catholics in this country started out as ethnic groups--Poles, Italians, Irish--who were mocked and discriminated against by the ruling WASP establishment. There were those famous signs, "No Irish need apply." And the Italians were even further down the ladder.
At that time, the Democrat Party sold itself as the party of the working classes, and for the most part it was. So most Catholics climbed on board, and in fact ended up running the Democrat party in many places, such as the Irish in Boston.
It was not until about the time of Roe v. Wade that the focus of the Democrats started to move somewhere else, toward free sex, gay activism, and abortion. As a result, over the years, Catholics steadily moved out of the Democrat party and over to the Republicans, who pretty much ceased to be WASPs. Real, church-going Catholics now have pretty much moved over to the Republican side. But habits are hard to break, for people who were Democrats all their lives, and considered the Republicans to be the party of privilege and snobbery. This kind of change takes a while, and further complications include dissident Catholics, ex-Catholics, and the fact that not all Republican politicians are pro-life.
Still, there has been steady progress away from the New Democrat Party, which is very different from what it used to be.
The USCCB should NOT be surprised or angry about this as they are a group of socialists......
.....who protect priests who like to have sex with little boys.
She's a weak Catholic and probably only is one for political reasons. Didn't she come from Kansas? Her religion probably helped her get elected to office, now it's become a burden to her. If she got the boot she'd probably wear it as a badge of honor.
By the time this fight between the Bishops and the Obama administration gets going she'll probably need an exorcism.
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