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 February 2015
General Intention:
That prisoners, especially the young, may be able to rebuild lives of dignity.
Missionary Intention: That married people who are separated may find welcome and support in the Christian community.



Comments


More Politics & Policy

BANNING BULLETS: Obama to use executive action to ban ammo for popular hunting rifle Watch

Image of The inexpensive 5.56 M855 ammo, commonly called

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Banning all firearms across the United States would take a massive effort, and certainly not many Americans would willingly give up their protection. According to a memo, U.S. President Barack Obama intends to use his executive powers to ban the bullets for the ... continue reading


Abercrombie & Fitch's 'looks policy' under fire for stark employee discrimination of Muslim girl Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Abercrombie & Fitch faces yet another lawsuit for potential discrimination. The hip clothing store has previously been under fire for lack of racial diversity in both employment and advertisement and for limited sizing choices. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


SHOCKING REPORT: Social Security card in hand, illegal immigrants can claim back tax benefits Watch

Image of Lawmakers have expressed distress that amnestied illegal immigrants could be potentially rewarded for illegal work.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Workers living and employed here illegally appear to be on a fast track to join the American dream. According to a Congressional Research Service, or CRS, memo, those illegal immigrants able to obtain Social Security Numbers and work permits due to President ... continue reading


NOT SO FAST! Net neutrality to get onceover before approval Watch

Image of Democrat Mignon Clyburn on the Federal Communications Commission wants to narrow the scope of new net neutrality rules set for a vote later this week.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The hotly debated "Net Neutrality" - which will determine how the 21st Century's preferred mode of communication and information - is not a sure thing, just yet. Democrat Mignon Clyburn on the Federal Communications Commission wants to narrow the scope of new ... continue reading


Democrats can dish it out - but are now shying away from Obamacare penalties Watch

Image of As those taxpayers discover the penalty they owe, they will already be racking up a new, higher penalty for 2015.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It looks like Democrats can dish it out, but can't take it. One of the stipulations of health care reform, or "Obamacare" was those who chose not to enroll had to pay a penalty come tax time. Now, as millions begin to file their taxes, Democrats are having ... continue reading


Human Tide: Texas' porous border allows thousands to flood in from Mexico Watch

Image of Speaking out on CBS's

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Porous borders - one where demarcations are hazy and ill-defined, allowing people to cross over into another country without proper accounting, was one of the reasons for the Ebola crisis in East Africa. There exists a similar situation between the United ... continue reading


'Terror threat' from American right-wing extremists discussed at summit Watch

Image of The mastermind behind the Alfred P. Murrah building bombing attack, Timothy James

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Domestic terrorism in the United States has long been an ongoing concern. The White House held a "Countering Violent Extremism" summit last week to talk about "extremist ideologies that radicalize." The summit did not address radical Islam in particular, but ... continue reading


Is Obama corrupt? Contracts for amnesty being pushed at 'full-throttle pace' by Department of Homeland Security Watch

Image of The population of potential requesters for the president's deferred action will be

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Despite a federal court's decision to halt President Obama's amnesty order, the White House continues to award multi-million-dollar contracts to firms to process millions of illegal immigrants. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The population of potential ... continue reading


Blackwell and Morrison: Obama's ISIS Policy - Above US Only Sky Watch

Image of With the murders this week of twenty-one Coptic Christians on the beach in Libya, the world has seen an example of the cruelty and barbarism. The Obama administration regularly denies it has anything to do with Islam.

By Ken Blackwell and Bob Morrison

With the murders this week of twenty-one Coptic Christians on the beach in Libya, the world has seen an example of the cruelty and barbarism. The Obama administration regularly denies it has anything to do with Islam. Islam must change. The world cannot survive ... continue reading


Ron Paul issues dire warning: Secession is happening Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The time is here, the United States' may soon be no more. According to former Republican presidential candidate and congressman, Ron Paul, the states will stop listening to federal laws. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "I would like to start off by talking about ... 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, Deuteronomy 26:16-19
16 'Yahweh your God commands you today to observe ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 119:1-2, 4-5, 7-8
1 How blessed are those whose way is blameless, who ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 5:43-48
43 'You have heard how it was said, You will love ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for February 28th, 2015 Image

St. Hilary, Pope
February 28: Pope from 461-468 and guardian of Church unity. He was born 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