Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Catholic Bishops - giving credit where credit is due

Last month I twice wrote about the hypocrisy evident in the lawsuits launched by the Catholic Church against certain provisions of Obamacare.  I noted that one of the main reasons for my disquiet and disgust concerned the Catholic Health Association of the USA (CHAUSA):

... the official organization representing Catholic hospitals and medical professionals - an organization at least nominally responsible to the US Catholic Bishops for the faith/moral content of its policies - is, right now, directly and immediately working against the efforts of those same Bishops, by promoting Obamacare at the same time that the 'official' Church is opposing at least some of its provisions, and calling for civil disobedience to overturn them.

However, it looks as if the Catholic Bishops are quietly addressing this problem behind the scenes, which pleases me greatly. The Washington Post reported last Friday:

Sharpening an election-year confrontation over religious freedom and government health insurance rules, the nation’s Catholic hospitals on Friday rejected President Barack Obama’s compromise for providing birth control coverage to their women employees.

The Catholic Health Association was a key ally in Obama’s health care overhaul, defying opposition from church bishops to help the president win approval in Congress. But the group said Friday it does not believe church-affiliated employers should have to provide birth control as a free preventive service, as the law now requires.

The hospital group’s decision calls into question a compromise offered by the president himself only months ago, under which the cost of providing birth control would be covered by insurance companies and not religious employers. While churches and other places of worship are exempt from the birth control mandate, nonprofits affiliated with a religion, such as hospitals, are not.

In a letter to the federal Health and Human Services department, the hospital group said the compromise initially seemed to be “a good first step” but that examination of the details proved disappointing. The plan would be “unduly cumbersome” to carry out and “unlikely to adequately meet the religious liberty concerns” of all its members, the group said.

. . .

With the Catholic Health Association now voicing concerns, opponents gained a powerful endorsement. There was no immediate reaction from the Obama administration.

The association represents about 600 hospitals and hundreds of nursing homes and other health-related organizations, totaling 2,000 members around the country. One of every six patients is cared for in a Catholic hospital.

There's more at the link.  The full text of the CHAUSA letter to HHS may be found here (link is to an Adobe Acrobat document in .PDF format).  Jimmy Akin, writing at the National Catholic Register, has some interesting background information about Sr. Carol Keehan, President of CHAUSA, and her previous statements on the issue.

I have little doubt that enormous pressure was (and is still being) applied to CHAUSA to force it to conform to the official Church position on this issue.  It's long overdue.  Either CHAUSA is a Catholic organization, obedient to the teachings of the Church, or it is not - and if the latter, it should remove the term 'Catholic' from its title as quickly as possible so as not to deceive people.

I note that the CHAUSA Web site still provides a section with links to pro-Obamacare material.  Here's a screenshot taken less than 5 minutes ago (scroll down at the link to find the relevant section).

OK, Bishops - how about dealing with that next?  That'll gain even more credibility for the Church's position, instead of continuing to send mixed (and erroneous) signals.


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