Tuesday, May 24, 2016

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Catholic Education Daily


Catholic Colleges and Contraception: Getting It Straight

A message from Patrick Reilly, President of The Cardinal Newman Society: Some news articles have created a bit of confusion about The Cardinal Newman Society’s blog post analyzing the 20 Catholic colleges and universities entered into the Congressional record by Rep. Elijah Cummings on February 16, 2012. Our original post can be found here.  At least one news organization has corrected its website, for which we are most grateful.   News articles at CNN and elsewhere suggest that The Cardinal Newman Society has released a report finding that few Catholic colleges and universities voluntarily include sterilization or contraception coverage in their employee health plans.  Not only do we doubt that to be true, but it misrepresents what we reported.  Our blog post commented only on Congressman Cummings' list of 20 institutions, not all 200-plus Catholic colleges in the U.S.  The Congressman’s list was generated by the pro-abortion National Women’s Law Center.   It is also important to understand the nuance of our complaint about Congressman Cummings' actions.  We noted many of the colleges in the Congressman’s list are mandated under state law to insure for contraceptives.  It is “disingenuous” to suggest that colleges providing such coverage under the threat of legal sanction should now welcome federally mandated coverage under the threat of additional sanction.  The Congressman and his pro-abortion allies make a very poor argument.   Should those colleges have used every means available—including attempted legislation and the courts—to resist compliance with the state mandates?  Certainly.  Should they have done what faithful Catholic colleges including Belmont Abbey College and Ave Maria University are now doing to confront federal threats to their religious liberty?  Absolutely!   In fact, the fact that this did not happen is precisely why The Cardinal Newman Society argues there is a crisis of Catholic identity in Catholic higher education.  Authentic Catholic identity means standing by Catholic principles and refusing to compromise them.   But what Congressman Cummings and many others fail to acknowledge, is that orthodoxy in Catholic institutions is a matter to be handled by the Catholic Church—not any state or federal government.  The actions of wayward Catholic institutions in no way diminishes the Constitutional rights of institutions that choose to sincerely embrace the Catholic faith.  It is the most faithfully religious colleges and universities that most need the protection of the First Amendment, and they cannot accept the Obama administration’s willful violation of their rights.

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