While reaffirming the U.S. Catholic bishops’ firm commitment to continue fighting the HHS mandate, Cardinal Timothy Dolan publicly described the decision by the Catholic Health Association to comply with the mandate as “untimely and unhelpful.”
The chastisement was included in a letter released Tuesday by Cardinal Dolan, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, after a meeting of the administrative board of the USCCB.
Although Cardinal Dolan did not cite by name those Catholic universities that have also announced plans to comply with the mandate—including Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash., and Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio—the criticism seems equally applicable.
The Cardinal wrote:
“At the Administrative Committee meeting, the members were unanimous in their resolve to continue our struggle against the HHS Mandate, and they asked me to convey that firm resolve to you. If there's any perception that our dedication to this fight is flagging, that’s dead wrong.
“That perception may come in part from the Catholic Health Association’s hurried acceptance of the accommodation, which was, I’m afraid, untimely and unhelpful. We highly value CHA’s great expertise in their ministry of healing, but as they have been the first to say, they do not represent the Magisterium of the Church. Even in their document stating that they could live with the ‘accommodation’ they remarked that we bishops, along with others, have wider concerns than they do.”
The HHS mandate is a requirement under Obamacare that would force employers, including Catholic schools and colleges, to provide employee insurance that would cover sterilization and contraception, including abortifacients. College plans for students would also be required to include the coverage.
Cardinal Dolan pointed out that the finalized version of the mandate still suffers from the same three basic problems including:
1) The government’s “narrow definition of ‘religious employer’ reduces religious freedom to the freedom of worship by dividing our community between houses of worship and ministries of service.”
2) The government’s “second-class treatment” of service ministries “leaves them without adequate relief.”
3) The Obama administration’s failure to offer any relief to for-profit businesses run by lay Catholics.
“While much remains uncertain, it is plain that the HHS Mandate lessens the ability of our ministries to give full-throated witness to our faith, a central mission of all Catholic apostolates,” wrote Dolan.
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