The first line of the Huffington Post story on this particular issue reads “In an unexpected blow to the Obama administration and a major boon for America’s Catholic bishops, the influential Catholic Health Association on Friday (June 15) rejected White House proposals aimed at easing faith-based objections to the contraception mandate.”
This is about as unexpected as finding out that the Pope is Catholic and that the sun rises in the East. Let us be honest here, the Roman Catholic Church has been doing a wonderful job of sending out the inquisition in order to try and push their agenda and silence internal detractors.
Sister Carol Keehan and the leaders of the CHA released a statement saying “The more we learn, the more it appears that the … approaches for both insured and self-insured plans would be unduly cumbersome and would be unlikely to adequately meet the religious liberty concerns of all of our members and other Church ministries.” Please note that the Vatican has been coming down hard on the nuns lately.
Keehan has been a vocal ally of Obama’s healthcare initiatives since 2009, and initially endorsed the compromise on the mandate that requires all employee health insurance plans to provide no-cost birth control coverage to employees. Obama’s mandate is based off of the ones that several states already have in place, and were not objected to by the Catholic Church.
Keehan’s support of the compromise angered the bishops, who have opposed anything and everything to do with the policy.
The HuffPo also reported that:
The CHA said “it is imperative for the Administration to abandon the narrow definition of ‘religious employer’ and instead use an expanded definition to exempt from the contraceptive mandate not only churches, but also Catholic hospitals, health care organizations and other ministries of the Church.”
“To make this distinction is to create a false dichotomy between the Catholic Church and the ministries through which the Church lives out the teachings of Jesus Christ,” the CHA said.
“Catholic health care providers are participants in the healing ministry of Jesus Christ. Our mission and our ethical standards in health care are rooted in and inseparable from the Catholic Church and its teachings about the dignity of the human person and the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death.”
The CHA did not focus on objections to contraception coverage per se. Instead, it stressed that if the administration wants to go ahead with the plan to provide free birth control coverage for all employees through health insurance, then it should “find a way to provide and pay for these services directly without requiring any direct or indirect involvement of ‘religious employers,’ as broadly defined.”
Alternately, the CHA suggested that HHS could simply declare that an organization would be covered by a wider religious exemption if it “shares common religious bonds and convictions with a church.” That definition would exempt the Catholic hospitals and universities who would be most directly affected by the mandate.
Simply put, the Vatican has pressured this group into opposing the mandate despite the fact that they have followed such mandates in several US states, and contribute to the contraception and abortion coverage in nations like German, France, Spain, Canada, Great Britain and so forth.
In other words, the Vatican is only fighting this here because they are being given the option to get involved in American politics. The time has come to tell them either they get out of politics or they pay taxes like everyone else.