I believe in a conscience protection for Catholics in the health field and I’ll continue to advocate for it as my colleagues in the Senate and I work to develop an overall national health policy that guarantees health care for everyone.
-- Sen. Ted Kennedy to Pope Benedict XVI
Ted is dead. Unfortunately they didn't bury his dream of national healthcare with him.
“Sr. Carol and her colleagues are to blame”
-Cardinal Francis George
St. Petersburg, Fla., Jun 16, 2010:
Sister Carol Keehan, CEO and President of the Catholic Health Association (CHA) openly acted in favor of President Obama’s health care reform and in opposition to persistent requests from the bishops, said Cardinal Francis George, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), during their spring meeting in St. Petersburg, Florida.
During the bishops' executive session held Tuesday morning to address the fallout of CHA’s support for the health care legislation despite the bishop's opposition, Cardinal George recounted the events that took place prior to President Obama's signing of the health care reform. The prelate then concluded his remarks by criticizing CHA and Sr. Keehan, saying they have created the dangerous precedent of a parallel magisterium to the bishops.
In the events leading up to the final health care vote, the USCCB president presented arguments on how the bishops' conference “remained consistent to the two guiding principles throughout the whole process: number one, everyone should have access to health care; number two, no one should be killed.”
The consistent moral position of the bishops, Cardinal George explained, centered around protecting life, conscience protections and the inclusion of immigrants.
“The Conference never backed down on these issues,” he forcefully stated.
According to the Archbishop of Chicago, when the Stupak Amendment was defeated in the Senate in December 2009, “everything went south.”
That is when “the Catholic Health Association and other so-called Catholic groups provided cover for those on the fence to support Obama and the administration.”
Cardinal George clearly remarked that “Sr. Carol and her colleagues are to blame” for the passage of the health care bill. He continued by revealing that the bishops repeatedly tried to reach out to Sr. Keehan both before and after the vote. “I personally met with her in March to no avail,” the cardinal reported.
In April, three bishops of the USCCB ad hoc Health Care Concerns Committee, Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Kevin Vann of Fort Worth and Thomas J. Paprocki of Springfield, also met with Sr. Keehan to try to make her understand the bishop's concerns and thus bring CHA back in line with Church teachings, however the meeting concluded with “the same frustrating results.”
The president of the USCCB reiterated the bishop's fundamental opposition to the health care reform. “The bill which was passed is fundamentally flawed. The Executive Order is meaningless. Sr. Carol is mistaken in thinking that this is pro-life legislation,” Cardinal George emphatically said.
The cardinal also expressed disappointment with CHA “and other so-called Catholic groups” because, “in the end, they have weakened the moral voice of the bishops in the U.S.”
In that regard, Cardinal George highlighted that the USCCB and CHA’s positions on Obama’s health care are not just “two equally valid conclusions inspired in the same Catholic teaching,” and reiterated that what the bishops said on May 21 in their statement “Setting the record Straight” is and will remain the official position of the USCCB on the contentious issue.
The document, presented by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities; Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre, New York, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice, Peace and Human Development, and Bishop John Wester of Salt Lake City, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Immigration, says: "As Bishops, we disagree that the divergence between the Catholic Conference and Catholic organizations, including the Catholic Health Association, represents merely a difference of analysis or strategy (Catholic Health World, April 15, 2010, “Now That Reform Has Passed”). Rather, for whatever good will was intended, it represented a fundamental disagreement, not just with our staff as some maintain, but with the Bishops themselves.
“As such it has resulted in confusion and a wound to Catholic unity."
Editor's note: CNA stands by our reporting of this story. However, the article as published did not mention the comments of Cardinal George were compiled by several bishops at the meeting and passed on to CNA. Our episcopal sources, who requested anonymity, stand by their recounting.
Monday, September 26, 2011
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The proposed religious exemption to the federal mandate that health insurance plans cover contraceptives and sterilization is "wholly inadequate to protect the conscience rights of Catholic hospital and health care organizations," [Sister Carol Keehan] the head of the Catholic Health Association told the Department of Health and Human Services.
Sister Carol Keehan, a Daughter of Charity who is CHA president and CEO, proposed in Sept. 23 comments to HHS that the definition of a religious employer be adapted to one contained in the Internal Revenue Code, which says an organization is "associated with a church if it shares common religious bonds and convictions with the church."
Instead, the HHS proposal defines a religious organization that could be exempt from the mandate as one that meets four 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 nonprofit organization" under specific sections of the Internal Revenue Code.
That definition has drawn criticism from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services and other Catholic groups. HHS was accepting comments on the proposed religious exemption until Sept. 30.
The exemption would apply to a requirement under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that health insurers cover sterilization and the full gamut of contraceptives approved by the Food and Drug Administration without deductible or co-payment as part of preventive health care for women.
Sister Carol said government acknowledgment of conscience rights goes back to the nation's beginnings.
She quoted from an 1804 letter from President Thomas Jefferson to French Ursuline nuns ministering in New Orleans, reassuring them that they could govern themselves by their own rules, "without interference from the civil authority."
"Whatever diversity of shade may appear in the religious opinions of our fellow citizens, the charitable objects of your institution cannot be indifferent to any," he added.
"Jefferson's promise to the Ursuline sisters that their work could continue according to their own rules is reflected now in the many federal and state laws protecting individuals and organizations from being required to participate in, pay for or provide coverage for certain services that are contrary to their religious beliefs or moral convictions," Sister Carol said.
"Requiring our members to cover contraceptive services, including sterilization and drugs with an abortifacient effect, would put them in an untenable situation," she added.
The CHA leader also argued that the proposed exemption "does not reflect the current approach followed in the states," as HHS had claimed, but "instead attempts for the first time to force religious organizations to violate their conscience and provide coverage for items and services they believe to be morally objectionable."
She noted that CHA "has long insisted on and worked for the right of everyone to affordable, accessible health care" and supported enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
But she faulted the proposed religious exemption for its failure to reflect the fact that Catholic organizations serve "persons of all ages, races and religious faiths, ... regardless of their faith or lack of faith."
"Men and women of any or no faith who are willing to serve with us in a manner faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church are welcome to join us as colleagues and employees," Sister Carol said. "We communicate our religious values through our deeds and our actions."
She also said the proposed religious exemption "raises serious constitutional questions" by attempting to define whether an organization is "sufficiently religious" to warrant the exemption.
"The government is unconstitutionally parsing a bona fide religious organization into 'secular' and 'religious' components solely to impose burdens on the secular portion," Sister Carol said. "This is particularly problematic as Catholic teaching calls our members to serve those in need and the most vulnerable regardless of their faith."
Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services also protested the proposed rule, urging HHS to "bring it in line with other federal laws in fully respecting the First Amendment dictum that Congress shall make no law 'prohibiting the free exercise' of religion."
"The administration's brazen attempt to attach the binding strings of its secularist agenda to something as basic as health insurance constitutes an unprecedented threat to individual and institutional religious freedom," he said in a Sept. 23 statement.
Do you know how much trouble Sister Carol Keehan is in? Guess what? She's not the only one :
May 18, 2009:
Archbishop Chaput on Notre Dame and the issues that remain:
"I have found that even among those who did not go to Notre Dame, even among those who do not share the Catholic faith, there is a special expectation, a special hope, for what Notre Dame can accomplish in the world." ~ Reverend John Jenkins, C.S.C., May 17, 2009
Most graduation speeches are a mix of piety and optimism designed to ease students smoothly into real life. The best have humor. Some genuinely inspire. But only a rare few manage to be pious, optimistic, evasive, sad and damaging all at the same time. Father John Jenkins, C.S.C., Notre Dame’s president, is a man of substantial intellect and ability. This makes his introductory comments to President Obama’s Notre Dame commencement speech on May 17 all the more embarrassing.
Let’s remember that the debate over President Obama’s appearance at Notre Dame was never about whether he is a good or bad man. The president is clearly a sincere and able man. By his own words, religion has had a major influence in his life. We owe him the respect Scripture calls us to show all public officials. We have a duty to pray for his wisdom and for the success of his service to the common good -- insofar as it is guided by right moral reasoning.
We also have the duty to oppose him when he’s wrong on foundational issues like abortion, embryonic stem cell research and similar matters. And we also have the duty to avoid prostituting our Catholic identity by appeals to phony dialogue that mask an abdication of our moral witness. Notre Dame did not merely invite the president to speak at its commencement. It also conferred an unnecessary and unearned honorary law degree on a man committed to upholding one of the worst Supreme Court decisions in our nation’s history: Roe v. Wade.
In doing so, Notre Dame ignored the U.S. bishops’ guidance in their 2004 statement, Catholics in Political Life. It ignored the concerns of Ambassador Mary Ann Glendon, Notre Dame’s 2009 Laetare Medal honoree – who, unlike the president, certainly did deserve her award, but finally declined it in frustration with the university’s action. It ignored appeals from the university’s local bishop, the president of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ conference, more than 70 other bishops, many thousands of Notre Dame alumni and hundreds of thousands of other American Catholics. Even here in Colorado, I’ve heard from too many to count.
There was no excuse – none, except intellectual vanity – for the university to persist in its course. And Father Jenkins compounded a bad original decision with evasive and disingenuous explanations to subsequently justify it.
These are hard words, but they’re deserved precisely because of Father Jenkins’ own remarks on May 17: Until now, American Catholics have indeed had “a special expectation, a special hope for what Notre Dame can accomplish in the world.” For many faithful Catholics – and not just a “small but vocal group” described with such inexcusable disdain and ignorance in journals like Time magazine -- that changed Sunday.
The May 17 events do have some fitting irony, though. Almost exactly 25 years ago, Notre Dame provided the forum for Gov. Mario Cuomo to outline the “Catholic” case for “pro-choice” public service. At the time, Cuomo’s speech was hailed in the media as a masterpiece of American Catholic legal and moral reasoning. In retrospect, it’s clearly adroit. It’s also, just as clearly, an illogical and intellectually shabby exercise in the manufacture of excuses. Father Jenkins’ explanations, and President Obama’s honorary degree, are a fitting national bookend to a quarter century of softening Catholic witness in Catholic higher education. Together, they’ve given the next generation of Catholic leadership all the excuses they need to baptize their personal conveniences and ignore what it really demands to be “Catholic” in the public square.
Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George has suggested that Notre Dame “didn’t understand” what it means to be Catholic before these events began. He's correct, and Notre Dame is hardly alone in its institutional confusion. That's the heart of the matter. Notre Dame’s leadership has done a real disservice to the Church, and now seeks to ride out the criticism by treating it as an expression of fringe anger. But the damage remains, and Notre Dame’s critics are right. The most vital thing faithful Catholics can do now is to insist – by their words, actions and financial support – that institutions claiming to be “Catholic” actually live the faith with courage and consistency. If that happens, Notre Dame’s failure may yet do some unintended good.
South Bend, IN (LifeNews.com) – With just two days left before pro-abortion President Barack Obama gives the commencement address at the University of Notre Dame, a group of 20 pro-life advocates were arrested. Alan Keyes, two Catholic priests and about two dozen supporters were arrested for walking onto the Notre Dame campus.
September 29, 2011:
NOTRE DAME, Indiana, September 29, 2011 - As the Obama administration prepares to force all Catholic employers in the United States to cover contraception, including abortifacient drugs like Plan B and Ella, the president of the University of Notre Dame is asking what happened to the “cooperation and understanding” between ideological opponents that Obama urged during his commencement speech at the university two years ago.
The new regulations announced by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on August 1, which are part of the new health law, will mandate that private insurers cover sterilizations and FDA-approved birth control, including drugs that function by causing early abortions, without co-pay.
The regulations include a “conscience clause” that defines religious employers as those that “primarily serve persons who share its religious tenets,” a definition that excludes nearly all major Catholic organizations, including universities. Comment from the public on the new regulations is being accepted until tomorrow.
Obama had told Notre Dame graduates in May 2009: “Let’s honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion, and draft a sensible conscience clause, and make sure that all of our health care policies are grounded in clear ethics and sound science, as well as respect for the equality of women.”
Notre Dame president Fr. John Jenkins, the enthusiastic host of Obama’s speech and honorary law degree at the prestigious Catholic institution, has penned a letter to Sebelius dated September 28 expressing concern at the disparity in Obama’s words and the impending mandate.
“May I suggest that this is not the kind of ‘sensible’ approach the president had in mind when he spoke here,” wrote Jenkins in a Sept 28 letter to Sebelius, calling the provision “narrower than any conscience clause ever enacted in federal law.”
He noted that, instead of being drafted from federal law, the regulation clause is drawn from the narrowest known state definition of “religious employer,” which only three states use.
The university president said that he “still stand[s] by that decision” to invite the deeply pro-abortion president, despite the opposition of over 300,000 petitioning Catholics and 80 active U.S. bishops. However, he observed that under the new regulations, Notre Dame would be forced to “offer our students sterilization procedures and prescription contraceptives, including pills that act after fertilization to induce abortions, and to offer such services in our employee health plans.”
“This would compel Notre Dame to either pay for contraception and sterilization in violation of the Church’s moral teaching, or to discontinue our employee and students health care plans in violation of the Church’s social teaching,” wrote the priest. “It is an impossible position.”
In addition to the pending contraceptive mandate, in February 2011 Obama repealed a conscience regulation dating from the Bush administration that protected the conscience rights of health care providers opposed to providing abortifacient contraception, such as the Plan-B “morning-after” pill.
An impossible situation of their own cowardly creation.
More, if interested, from George Weigel:
Reactionary liberalism and Catholic social doctrine
June 1, 2011 — The debate over Catholic social doctrine and U.S. social welfare policy took an unhelpful turn in May when a gaggle of academics fired a shot across the bow of House Speaker John Boehner, prior to his commencement address at the Catholic University of America.
Their charge? That Boehner’s House voting record showed him to be a man who fails “to recognize (whether out of a lack of awareness or dissent) important aspects of Catholic teaching.”
Why? Because he had not supported legislation that, in the professors’ view, addressed “the desperate needs of the poor.”
Speaker Boehner, a Catholic with a solid pro-life voting record, is a big boy who can defend his votes on various issues.
What bothered me about the open letter to Boehner was its tone (smarmy), its assumptions about the one-to-one correspondence between the principles of Catholic social doctrine and the policy preferences of the Democratic Party, and its suggestion that anyone who challenges that linkage is in “dissent” from settled Catholic teaching.
The 2012 election seems likely to be defined by a major national debate on the welfare state, government spending, and social responsibility. If libertarian minimalism of the sort espoused by Ron Paul sits poorly with the rich and complex tradition of Catholic social doctrine, so does reactionary liberalism of the sort espoused by the anti-Boehner pedagogues.
So perhaps a review of the basics is in order, to put the forthcoming argument on a more secure footing.
(1) The Church’s concern for the poor does not imply a “preferential option” for Big Government. The social doctrine teaches that the problem of poverty is best addressed by empowerment: enabling poor people to enter the circle of productivity and exchange in society.
The responsibility for that empowerment falls on everyone: individuals, through charitable giving and service work; voluntary organizations, including the Church; businesses and trade unions.
Government at all levels can play a role in this process of empowerment, but it is a serious distortion of the social doctrine to suggest that government has exclusive responsibility here.
On the contrary: in the 1991 social encyclical, “Centesimus Annus,” Blessed John Paul II condemned the “Social Assistance State” because it saps welfare-recipients of their dignity and their creativity while making them wards of the government.
(2) Fiscal prudence is a matter of justice extended toward future generations, and is therefore an inter-generational moral imperative (as is provision for the retired elderly).
To leave mountains of unserviceable debt to future generations is shameful.
The reactionary defense of governmental pension and social welfare programs with no evident concern for their fiscal implications violates the moral structure of Catholic social doctrine: the portside analogue to a cool indifference toward the fate of the poor.
(3) There are legitimate disagreements about the implications of the Church’s social doctrine for American social welfare policy. To suggest that the social doctrine provides obvious, clear-cut answers to questions about the future of Medicare or Medicaid is to misrepresent that teaching.
To charge someone with “dissent” from Church teaching because that someone disagrees with one’s own prudential judgments about the application of the social doctrine to complex policy issues is a serious misuse of the notion of “dissent” and borders on calumny (a false statement that “harms the reputation of others and gives occasion for false judgments concerning them”—Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2477).
It ill behooves anyone to make such a charge; it particularly ill behooves academics who publicly dissent from settled Catholic teaching on marital chastity, sexual morality, and qualifications for Holy Orders from chairs at Catholic universities.
(4) The moral imperative to legally protect innocent human life from conception until natural death is a settled matter in Catholic doctrine. So is the nature of marriage as the stable union of a man and a woman. Catholic legislators who support the abortion license are manifestly in dissent and have damaged their communion with the Church. So have legislators who support “gay marriage.” Academics eager to demonstrate their fidelity to Catholic social doctrine might point this out—and support the bishops who do.