Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

2/6/2013 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

At the time of the drafting of the Bill of Rights there was no such thing as an Internal Revenue Service and no 501 c3 organization status

The new accommodation states that the "free" dispensing of contraceptives, abortificacients and sterilization somehow "furthers the governmental interests in promoting public health and in promoting gender equality". 

President Obama and Kathleen Sebelius, HHS Secretary

President Obama and Kathleen Sebelius, HHS Secretary

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

2/6/2013 (2 years ago)

Published in Politics & Policy

Keywords: HHS, Kathleen Sebelius, President Obama, Archbishop Chaput, Cardinal Dolan, HHS Mandate, Accomodation, Deacon Keith Fournier


WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - On February 1, 2013, the Obama Administration announced a new modification to its alleged accommodation for religious institutions which object to being compelled to offer contraception, sterilization and abortifacients to their employees - or face the punitive boot of the State.

The original mandate required all employers, including Catholic and other religious employers, to cover sterilization, abortion inducing drugs, and contraception in their health care plans.  The alleged exemption provided for religious employers did not cover hospitals, universities, soup kitchens, outreaches to the poor and many other vital expressions of our Catholic faith and mission.

The purported accommodation which followed the opposition to this horrid Mandate amounted to a shell game which accomplished nothing. When the Mandate was recorded in the Federal Register, nothing had changed. After the uproar did not subside, and facing 44 lawsuits which were filed, the Administration offered the latest accommodation. The actual eight page rule is found within an 80 page document which can be read here

Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, said in the official Government Press Release, "Today, the administration is taking the next step in providing women across the nation with coverage of recommended preventive care at no cost, while respecting religious concerns. We will continue to work with faith-based organizations, women's organizations, insurers and others to achieve these goals."

As usual, Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey spoke with refreshing candor, "The so-called new policy is the discredited old policy, dressed up to look like something else," Smith said. "The mandate remains a serious violation of religious freedom. Only the most na´ve or gullible would accept this as a change in policy."

"The proposed rule issued today remains a direct, obnoxious, unprecedented government attack on the conscience rights of religious entities and anyone else who for moral reasons cannot and will not pay for abortion inducing drugs-such as ella-or contraception and sterilization procedures in their private insurance plans." The entire statement is here.

Of course, anyone who is genuinely concerned over the blatant violation of the First Amendment guarantee of the fundamental right to religious freedom this matter involves hoped that this new overture was sincere. Some hoped it might actually offer some ground for a resolution.

Understandably, the President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, deferred any comment. He expressed hope for resolution and prudently waited while legal counsel reviews the 80 page document.

Our Bishops have a top shelf General Counsel in Anthony R. Picarello Jr.  He is a constitutional lawyer with a demonstrated expertise in Religious Liberty cases. Prior to this assignment, Picarello served as General  Counsel to the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty

The Becket Fund has already weighed in on the purported modification to the proposed accommodation, with skepticism.  One of the many services this excellent public interest law firm provides is a clearinghouse site where you can go and find out about each lawsuit and its current status called Mandate Information.

Another outstanding group doing public interest work is the Alliance Defending Freedom. They offered a quick analysis, the thrust of which is found in the title of their article, Only a Sliver of Religious Organizations Covered by Proposed Exemption to HHS Abortion Pill Mandate. They are correct.

What are we coming to when religious groups need bend the knee to a New Caesar? Part of the reason for the American founding was religious freedom. What kind of verbal nonsense calls abortificacients, and sterilization preventive health care?

The new accommodation states that the "free" dispensing contraceptives, abortificacients and sterilization somehow "furthers the governmental interests in promoting public health and in promoting gender equality". What?

Why are we even accepting the idea that an employer who objects on religious and moral grounds to distributing such items - even if they are offered for "free" by a straw man - must first be structured under Section 501c3 of the Internal Revenue Code - or be recognized by the Federal Government as a church or religious organization?

What about businesses or associations which are not structured as non-profit organizations intentionally but are just as dedicated to the religious and moral principles of their faith? At the time of the drafting of the Bill of Rights there was no such thing as an Internal Revenue Service and no 501 c3 organization status. 

The more one looks into this "accommodation" the more it looks like same-old, same- old. Out of deference and respect, I will await the release from the US Bishops before going any further. However, one of them, Archbishop Charles Chaput, offered some insights in an article entitled   Making Sense Out of Another Ambiguous Compromise in the Catholic Philly which is set forth below.

*****
Making sense of another ambiguous 'compromise'
Archbishop Charles Chaput

To live well is nothing other than to love God with all one's heart, with all one's soul and with all one's efforts; from this it comes about that love is kept whole and uncorrupted (through temperance).  No misfortune can disturb it (and this is fortitude).  It obeys only [God] (and this is justice), and is careful in discerning things, so as not to be surprised by deceit or trickery (and this is prudence).
- Augustine

The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that prudence is the auriga virtutum, the "charioteer of virtues."  It is "right reason in action," the guide to correctly applying all other virtues.  Rash action, no matter how well intended, violates prudence and usually does more harm than good.  God gave us brains.  He expects us to use them to judiciously pursue the highest moral good for others and for ourselves.

At the same time, the Catechism warns that prudence should never be used as an alibi for "timidity or fear, duplicity or dissimulation."  Real prudence has a spine called fortitude, the virtue we more commonly know as courage.  And courage, in the words of C.S. Lewis, "is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means at the point of highest reality."

Here's why both these virtues are vital in the weeks ahead.  On Friday, February 1, the Obama administration issued for public comment a set of revised regulations governing the HHS "contraceptive mandate."  At first glance, the new rules have struck some people as a modest improvement.  They appear to expand, in a limited way, the kind of religiously-affiliated entities that can claim exemption from providing insurance coverage for contraceptive and abortion-related services under the new Affordable Care Act.

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 scholar Yuval Levin has stressed that the new HHS mandate proposal, "like the versions that have preceded it, betrays a complete lack of understanding of both religious liberty and religious conscience."  In reality, despite the appearance of compromise, "the government has forced a needless and completely avoidable confrontation and has knowingly put many religious believers in an impossible situation."

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."

The White House has made no concessions to the religious conscience claims of private businesses, and the whole spirit of the "compromise" is minimalist.

As a result, the latest White House "compromise" already has a wave of critics, including respected national religious liberty law firms like the Becket Fund and the Alliance Defending Freedom.  And many are far harsher than Professor Bradley in their analysis.

The scholar Yuval Levin has stressed that the new HHS mandate proposal, "like the versions that have preceded it, betrays a complete lack of understanding of both religious liberty and religious conscience."  In reality, despite the appearance of compromise, "the government has forced a needless and completely avoidable confrontation and has knowingly put many religious believers in an impossible situation."

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.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for May 2015
Universal:
That, rejecting the culture of indifference, we may care for our neighbours who suffer, especially the sick and the poor.
Evangelization: That Mary's intercession may help Christians in secularized cultures be ready to proclaim Jesus.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More Politics & Policy

All for naught? FBI admits that Patriot Act didn't lead to cracking major terrorist cases Watch

Image of Opponents, with the inspector general conclude that no major cases have been broken by use of the Patriot Act's records-snooping provisions.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It granted the Federal Bureau of Investigation bold new powers - but now the FBI admits that the Patriot Act didn't help them crack any major terrorism cases. The Justice Department's Inspector general Michael E. Horowitz now says there are issues that keep key ... continue reading


Karl Rove's American Crossroads no longer as powerful as it once was Watch

Image of American Crossroads began by Karl Rove and other powerful Republicans were at one time a most powerful force in American politics.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

American Crossroads, created by Karl Rove and other powerful Republicans, was at one time a most powerful force in American politics. There is evidence, however, that this is changing. The American political landscape is changing, and the group is seeing the ... continue reading


Disappointing Congress: Both the right and the left ladle out heavy disapproval for Congress Watch

Image of Republicans at 36 percent are about as likely as Democrats at 38 percent or independents at 38 percent to say Congress is accomplishing less than they expected.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Even republicans have very little good to say about the republican-led Congress. Just 23 percent of Americans say congressional Republicans are keeping the promises they made during last fall's campaign. The vast majority, at 65 percent say they are not. LOS ... continue reading


ENROLLMENT ZERO: No one signs up for Obamacare in Hawaii - NO ONE Watch

Image of Suppose they gave universal health care - and no one came?

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Suppose they gave universal health care - and no one came? That appears to be the case in Hawaii, where Hawaii's Obamacare Exchange enrolled a grand total of ZERO - simply no one, people during its special enrollment period. While Hawaii's enrollment was a ... continue reading


ANOTHER LIE: Hillary Clinton's email scandal grows Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Hillary Clinton is caught in another lie regarding her private email account usage. According to the New York Times, Clinton used more than one private account while serving as secretary of state. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The news of another private email ... continue reading


President Obama seeks to end immigration enforcement on part of local police Watch

Image of President Obama hoped to rebut the notion that he is insensitive to the plight of police officers on the front lines.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

President Barack Obama, while in Camden, New Jersey, said that in order for local police to rebuild trust within their communities, immigration enforcement must be taken away from state and local police and remain strictly the domain of federal law enforcement. ... continue reading


The Clintons have earned WHOPPING $25 million to deliver speeches since last year Watch

Image of Hillary Clinton has made $3.2 million from the tech sector. One of her last speaking gigs on the paid lecture circuit; she addressed an eBay summit aimed at promoting women in the workplace. Her 20-minute chat garnered a $315,000 check.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Former first family, the Clintons, at one time claimed they were broke. If so, this was before last year, when both Bill and Hillary delivered 104 speeches for a total of $25 million. Hillary Clinton is especially popular with high-tech firms, who eagerly shell ... continue reading


President Obama cracks down on military equipment for U.S. law enforcement Watch

Image of Making his announcement in Camden, New Jersey, the president praised efforts by the police department to improve their relationship with a poor community struggling with violence.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

U.S. President Barack Obama gave law enforcement a dressing down this week - literally. Obama has placed new restrictions on the amount of combat-style equipment local law enforcement can use. The gesture is intended to smooth over relations with racial ... continue reading


'Iraq is the biggest disaster in American history,' former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright declares Watch

Image of Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright believes

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright spoke plainly when discussing the ongoing Middle East crisis. "Iraq is the biggest disaster in American history," Albright declared late last week. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "I have believed that Iraq is the ... continue reading


Somebody's 'Mook?' Hillary Clinton's campaign manager interned for George Stephanopoulos Watch

Image of Yo, Mook!

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

George Stephanopoulos is in hot after currently donating to the Clinton Foundation. Adding to the web of deceit, it was discovered that Stephanopoulos thanked Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, Robby Mook in the acknowledgement section of his 1999 tell-all ... continue reading


All Politics & Policy News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Acts 28:16-20, 30-31
16 On our arrival in Rome Paul was allowed to stay in ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 11:4, 5, 7
4 Yahweh in his holy temple! Yahweh, his throne is in ... Read More

Gospel, John 21:20-25
20 Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for May 23rd, 2015 Image

St. John Baptist Rossi
May 23: This holy priest was born in 1698 at the village of Voltaggio in ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter