Last Friday, the Obama administration announced an “adjustment” to the HHS mandate that would require Catholic hospitals, schools, and charities to provide co-pay free coverage of contraception, sterilization, and ‘day-after’ pills.The adjustment amounts to an accounting trick.
Obama promised women will still receive co-pay free services including contraception, sterilization and day after pills, but that the insurance company would somehow pay for it, instead of the Church-affiliated organisation that hires the insurer.
Anyone can see that this is a game of pretend.
The “line-item” for the objectionable items is just left off the contract for Catholic institutions, but the price is still included in whatever contract they make. Insurance companies have to reimburse pharmaceutical makers, and doctors, so they will simply raise their premiums. Worse, the Obama administration’s adjustment did nothing to address the cases of institutions that self-insure.
Meanwhile, the unofficial leader of the Catholic opposition, Archbishop Timothy Dolan, is currently in Rome waiting to be named a Cardinal later this week.
Dolan has tried to be tough on Obama without being partisan. In an interview this week he insisted that the American bishops were not “Obama-haters.”
When asked if he believed Obama was waging “a war on religion,” Dolan slyly replied “I don’t want to believe that.” He offered some conciliatory notes and said, “I have to say that sometimes he [Obama] makes it hard to believe him, but I will not place myself or my brother bishops in the camp of Obama-haters, because we’re not.”
But, many Catholic parishes this past Sunday, furnished their members with petitions to their representatives asking them to support legislation that would expand the conscience exemption to cover any employer with a moral objection.
The outlines of this conflict are pretty simple:
According to Catholic teaching, any “material cooperation” with a sin is itself a sin. Paying for artificial birth-control (to be used as birth control), elective sterilization, and ‘day-after’ pills is sinful.
For Obama, not paying for these things amounts to a crime.
For both parties, the demands are non-negotiable.
Of course the Church would object to the government providing these services directly, as it does in Europe, but it would not object with the same vociferous energy, as that scheme doesn’t directly morally implicate the Church. There is a moral difference between what the government does with revenue, and what you are required to give your employees in compensation.
Here are the options: The Church or Church-affiliated institutions can simply apostasize under the pressure. (This is likely in many cases where the religious affiliation of an institution is simply a matter of history rather than a continuing commitment.)
The result will be that the Church will have little or no standing if future HHS mandates require Catholic hospitals to prescribe birth control and perform abortions.
Or the Church can rally political pressure to see these mandates rescinded, or the exemptions expanded. Or hope that a Republican president simply does this for them.
Dolan has said “there is a glimmer of hope,” that the issue can be resolved. But the ball is clearly in his court when he returns next week as a Cardinal of the Church.
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