After intimating that it would be amenable to proposals the White House made to ease the divisiveness of its birth-control mandate, the Catholic Health Association released a statement on Friday rejecting those proposals and insisting that the administration concoct yet another compromise.
In a five-page response to the Department of Health and Human Services, Sister Carol Keehan and other leaders of the CHA objected to a religious institution having even the most peripheral obligation to pay for contraception.
The more we learn, the more it appears that the ... approaches for both insured and self-insured plans would be unduly cumbersome and would be unlikely to adequately meet the religious liberty concerns of all of our members and other Church ministries.
Keehan had been counted as a White House ally in the push for health care reform and, according to the Huffington Post, seemed positive about the compromise President Obama offered religious organizations back in February. According to the tenets of that compromise, neither religious institutions nor individuals would be directly responsible for the cost of contraception. Instead, insurance companies would be required to provide coverage for the price of free.
The CHA response described the "false dichotomy" it believes the administration has created between the Catholic Church itself and the "ministries through which the Church lives out the teachings of Jesus Christ," i.e. schools, hospitals, and charities, all those places that employ Catholics and non-Catholics alike. The CHA further stressed how even a tempered version of the administration's mandate would clash with the Church's core beliefs.
Catholic health care providers are participants in the healing ministry of Jesus Christ. Our mission and our ethical standards in health care are rooted in and inseparable from the Catholic Church and its teachings about the dignity of the human person and the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death.
In a wily bit of tip-toeing, the CHA managed not to directly voice objections to contraception coverage, leaving the door open for the possibility of a compromise that even James Madison would have trouble crafting. The CHA said that if the White House plans to go ahead and provide birth control to employees of religious organizations through health insurance, it needs to "find a way to provide and pay for these services directly without requiring any direct or indirect involvement of 'religious employers,' as broadly defined." In other words, the CHA has made it quite clear that, though there won't be any Church money in it for Church employees, when they die, on their deathbeds, they'll all receive total consciousness. So they've got that going for them, which is nice but not quite as nice as contraception coverage.
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