Bishops should accept their victory

Bishops should accept their victory:

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After weeks of tangling over new Health and Human Services guidelines requiring contraception services in new health insurance plans, the White House has offered what it describes as a "common sense accommodation." It is aimed at ending the confrontation between the Obama administration and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The new language maintains the religious exemption for church entities such as parishes and dioceses, but nonprofit religious employers will no longer be required to offer contraception as part of insurance coverage, pay for it via insurance premiums or refer employees to contraception benefits outside their plans. A senior White House official said the administration believes the changes reflect "a health care policy that accommodates religious liberty while protecting women."

If the bishops are smart they won't, as one member of the conference told me, "snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory" and push the administration much further on this issue. Dead-enders could complain that a comingling of funds means religious employers would still be paying for contraception. The White House argues that since contraception is actually a cost-saving benefit, insurers don't have to add a charge for it to insurance premiums.

With today's policy revisions announced, many Americans are still probably wondering what all the fuss was about.

Read more at http://www.cnn.com/2012/02/10/opinion/clarke-contraception/index.html

Kevin Clarke

 

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ed gleason
5 years 8 months ago
There will be NO bishop acceptance. Some want to exempt all Catholic owned not just Church affiliated businesses whether profit or not. They are not moving the goal posts.. they cut em down.
The USCCB lawyer says"
“If I quit this job and opened a Taco Bell, I’d be covered by the mandate,” USCCB's Picarello said. {Taco Bell has no employee health insurance]
I suggest we are having an ecclesial nervous breakdown. Get meds ready.
Will my pastor read the out of date archbishop letter this weekend.. ????
Craig McKee
5 years 8 months ago
Meanwhile, big bad Cardinal-elect Dolan rides triumphantly into Rome on the eve of his elevation. If I believed in conspiracy theories, I'd almost think he and Obama sat down and scripted this one for the MEDIA!
Joshua DeCuir
5 years 8 months ago
Since America has been quick to post "open letters" from Catholic academics criticizing Republican positions, I find it curious that no mention of an open letter from Mary Ann Glendon & John Garvey among others have been made:

 http://www.catholicvote.org/discuss/index.php?p=26523
Vince Killoran
5 years 8 months ago
Thank you Wm. Donahue-it's settled: I will look over all taxes and other fees & insurances I pay for employees and only pay for those that comport with my religious beliefs.  Please, no criticisms or attempts to address a pluralistic American society etc. or the rights of my employess. If you even try to do this you are engaging in open warfare against my religion.

Of course, this will apply to all religious groups & sects.
Dennis Sinclair
5 years 8 months ago
This whole kerfuffle is about how much the govenrment can invade, i.e., micromanage, the lives of its citizens.  This is about our God-given rights being denied by the state. This is about the state growing wihout being responsible to the people.  People create govenrments to do certain things.  The current regime has, again, over-stepped its bounds.  

As the unelected bureaucratic class grows we, as individuals must diminish.  The state demands that we pay more in taxes; that we have more restrictions on our ability to live.  The totalitarian state cannot have opposition. Look toward Cuba, USSR, North Korea, Hitler's Germany to see how rights diminish when the state grows.

We are well on the way toward a totalitarian state.  The current presdient has no respect for the citizens or for the protections the Constitution affords to our citizens.  He violates the Constitution with impunity and without regard to morlaity.

 
Jim McCrea
5 years 8 months ago
This has become a strawman concern about the free exercise of religion. It appears that the uber-Catholic phalanx seems to what that anyone who claims the free exercise of their religion (dogma? personal theology? divine revelation? peep stones?) can therefore discriminate by anything, i.e., class, gender, race, sexual orientation, age, marital status, etc. so long as it fits their definition of "free exercise."


Ask the LDS how they were able to practice polygamy under the “free exercise” clause.

Ask Christian Scientists who want to withhold medical care from their minor children.

Ask anyone who is not a member of the Native American Church is (s)he can use peyote in the “free exercise” of his/her religion.

Ask anyone who is not a member of a religious group that expouses conscientious objection, but does so personally, if they can claim that status as part of their “free exercise” without one heck of a hassle that they will most likely lose.

Ask parents who want to have a free hand in any kind corporal punishment of their children that happens to be in violation of various laws about the “free exercise” of their religious beliefs.

Ask someone who takes the Hebrew Scriptures to heart and wants to own slaves about “free exercise.”
 
Tom Maher
5 years 8 months ago
Walter Mattingly (# 19)

Catholic Instittutions are part of the Catholic Church and must have the same religious exemptions that all religions routinely get in laws under the U.S. Constitituion. 

But the Obama admistration has taken it upon itself to define what the Catholic Church is and is not - something that is forbidden under the Religious Estatbishment clause of the U.S. Constitution. The Obama admistration has decided without Constitutional basis that Catholic Institutions such as schools, hosptials and social services agencies are not part of the Catholic Church and therefore are just like any non-exempt business entity that does not have  Religous Liberty protection under the Constitution.     This intrusion by the Obama admisitration into religious affairs of Catholic Church on how the Church  defines itself is a fundemental violation of the Church Constituion right to exist on its own terms.  This intrusion is not reolved and is profoundly important.

The prolbem with many Catholics is that they can not bring themselves to be critical of the President for his severe Constitutional transgressions .  However the wider citizenry will  insist that this Constitutional crisis on Religous LIberies created by the Obama administration be fully resolved before any victory is declared or goes away.
C Walter Mattingly
5 years 8 months ago
Ed (13) brings up a good point of comparison we should recognize. Genuine followers of the US Constitution have accepted Quaker and Mennonite conscientious objectors from service and the draft in our world wars. While Ed complains that some were given menial service, the point is that they did not have to risk being shot in the head a la Bin Laden by some Nazi or other opponent. And in their place, another US citizen had to assume that risk. In effect, in Ed's example, to die in his place while he cleans out stables, etc.

That is the respect shown to the free exercise of religion right built into the First Amendment by presidents such as FDR, Truman, Eisenhower and the like, as well as the citizenry loyal to their Constitution.
Here President Obama provides evidence he is not among this group. He simply doesn't measure up. 
Tom Maher
5 years 8 months ago
Dave Smith (# 25)

Excellent reference.  It shows legally the Religious Liberties have the high ground as they should under the Consititution.  The Bishops such as Chaput are starting to react very negatively to this bogus "accommodation".  

The legal communities Consistutional law heavy weights are starting to weigh in strongly in favor of the Church's Religous Liberty stand claims.  Religious Liberties are just not so easily set aside.  This is a full blown Consistutional crisis with the President.  Unless Preesident Obama is think of a coup and suspensing the Constituion as they would in Latin America,  President Obama is in real big politcal and Constituional trouble.  Obma just does not have the law and history onhis side and soon he will have tons of opposition even in his own party.

It makes no sense for the Church back down from opposing the  barriers to its religous mission the Obama adminsitration has erected.  Why should Catholic Church not be allowed full religous participation in society?  Obama's deal does not make sense in terms of Religous Liberties.  Why on earth would the Catholic Bishops want to give up the Church's Constitutional rights without a fight especailly now when widespread political support is being mobilizied to support these rights?  
Carlos Orozco
5 years 8 months ago
Marie, don't get irritated. I sure hope you defeded our Church with the same passion you defend President Obama. In any case, the search of overreaching, unconstitutional power is tyrannical and must be condemned.
Carlos Orozco
5 years 8 months ago
Marie, by the way, it's an ugly cheap shot to try to frame me as a racist. The context s very clear, Little Nero = little Emperor.
Marie Rehbein
5 years 8 months ago
Tom, characterizing this controversy as an attack on religious liberty is hollow.  Where this idea comes from has not yet been revealed.  However, I do not find it far-fetched to think that the Obama administration decided to let this come to head nice and early so that it would not become the defining issue at election time.

Carlos, if you believe something wrong strongly enough, then everything else you see and hear gets twisted so that it seems to support your belief.  I believe the President has followed the "just war" principle, but you might consider that it is not his religion that makes this a technicality for attaining eternal life.  He simply does what is ethically proper.  He does not bother with Congress unless absolutely necessary because the focus of our Congress at this time is to undermine everything he would do.  They would cut off their own noses to spite him, or more correctly, they would cut of our noses to spite him.

As to defending the Church, that is surely not necessary.  It doesn't have it as good anywhere else in the world as it does in this country.  If there is anyone threatening the separation of church and state, it is the church with its overreaching into politics.
Joshua DeCuir
5 years 8 months ago
"It doesn't have it as good anywhere else in the world as it does in this country.  If there is anyone threatening the separation of church and state, it is the church with its overreaching into politics."

So what do you call it when they criticize Paul Ryan, out of curiosity?
David Pasinski
5 years 8 months ago
Obama offered a fig-leaf for all for something as close to "you win, but I don't lose- everything."  The rsponse of Ambassador Glendon and CUA President Garvey is disappointing and I think could stir a greater reaction - and it's still a wonder what the bishops will say. If I were arguing for them, I'd agree that they should accept this, but I think there's going to be push -fueled by the current politics and Boehner, Gingrich, and Santorum - to continue to hammer the religioous issue that may result in episcopal over-reach and blow up in their faces eventually. And then maybe someone will  listen and not pander when it really becomes apparent that "the faithful" really don't have the same problems with birth control and see it as helping to reduce abortions, not increase them
Amy Ho-Ohn
5 years 8 months ago
"The White House argues that since contraception is actually a cost-saving benefit, insurers don't have to add a charge for it to insurance premiums."

I agree this claim looks suspicious. If contraception is cost-neutral, why don't all health insurance plans already include it? And why didn't HHS just say so two weeks ago?

But I think the answer may have to do with the ACA itself. Under the ACA, health insurance plans will have to cover two categories of people they have hitherto avoided covering: (1) people with pre-existing conditions, whose pregnancies are likely to be high-risk and (2) young healthy people, who have comparatively frequent pregnancies. For both of these groups, providing contraception instead of paying for pregnancies and births could be a big plus. (Obviously, this means a big plus for the insurance company, not for society, which benefits in the long run from the new human being.)

But there's no need to scream about it anymore. Actuarial computations are done by computer programs. One can simply run the program and see whether contraception is cost-neutral or not. If so, Obama is right. If not, one would have expected the insurance companies to have said so by now.
Gabriel Marcella
5 years 8 months ago
Kevin and Amy:

"The White House argues that since contraception is actually a cost saving benefit..."

There are ethical problems with this statement:

1. The HHS mandate includes sterilization and the morning after pill, which are not contraception. Those also save costs in a cold calculation bereft of moral content. 
2. There are other ways to save costs, but they are morally unacceptable. For example, euthanasia and abandoning the sick, hungry, and poor can reduce costs.

Therefore, is saving costs an adequate ????measur??????e of???? ??p?r?o?g?r?e?s?s??????????? ??
Gabriel Marcella
5 years 8 months ago
Sorry. Last sentence should read: Therefore, is saving costs an adequate measure?
Vince Killoran
5 years 8 months ago
Picking up on Ed's question about another bishops' letter at this weekend's Masses, we were scheduled to have the Knights of Columbus waiting in the vestibule to "assist" us in signing letters of protest to various government officials.

Perhaps now we can just sign blank letters and they can fill the rest in "as the situation develops."
William Donahue
5 years 8 months ago
Kevin Clarke, and most of the commentors here, have missed the real battle that is going on here, and it isn't just ''paying for contraception,'' but rather the religious liberties guaranteed to all citizens under the first ammendment.  The right to freely practice your religion, guaranteed under this ammendment, isn't for religious institutions, but rather is guaranteed to each and every citizen.
While I am definitely for women's health, I am also bound by MY religious beliefs, and the guarantee in the First Ammendment that there will be no governmental intrusion in my religious beliefs.  The first ammendment DOES NOT contain any clause that states that this freedom to hold these beliefs is tempered by the ''coomon goos of society'', and does not give the government, or anyone else for that matter, the right to violate my religious freedom FOR ANY reason. 
That is why so many non-cathoic religious leaders are also up in arms.   This goes much further than paying for contraception (however you define it,) it goes to the very essence of the First ammendment, and whether the government, under any circumstances can abridge the religious freedom rights that it grants TO EVERY CITIZEN, not simply religious institutions.  The ammendment was granted to ensure that another ''state religion'', as was the Church of England was, could never be forced on any citizen.  That a king could never determine what any citizen believed, and granted the right for them to live within their belief system.  What is happening is this current controversy, as rightly defined by the bishops and other non-catholic religious leaders, is that the goverment is attempting to be the ''church of england'' and dictate only the beliefs and religious actions that THEY believe are appropriate.
As a Catholic business owner, I am force to pay for insurance for my employees, that not only provides for contraception, but also for abortion and sterilization.  I have been forced to make a choice whether I am to live within my religious beliefs and not provide any coverage at all, or to accept the governments definition of what I am allowed to believe under their definition.  And if I don't agree with their definition, and decide that I am going to follow the tenents of my faith, and not provide coverage because it would be condoning abortion and sterilization, I am to be penalized monetarily (and quite severely) for not accepting their lmitations of my following my faith.
Where is all the furor, or even discussion, about the First Ammendments rights to ''freely practice religion'' that thousands or millions of catholic businessmen and women have had abrogated.  Either we belong to the belief sysem of the Church of Obama and Sebelius, or we pay a financial penalty for sticking to the beliefs of the Catholic Church.   Nobody, and especially America Magazine, wants to talk about this.
Tom Maher
5 years 8 months ago
The Religious Liberty conflict will continue on its own with or without the Catholic Bishops.   The citizens not only religious officials have and interst in and a responsibility  for seeing that their elected public officials such as the President "protect and defend the Consititution" including the Religious Liberty clauses as they are sworn to do in their oath of office.  The President will be held strickly accountable for his political decisions impacting citizens' expectations.  

The First Amendment of the Consititution makes America the strong and successful nation that it is.  While most of the nations of the world throughout history have had never-ending religious strife, the United States becasue of its Religous Liberty clauses has had religious peace and harmony allowing its citizens for hundreds of years to be at religious peace and politcally and religiously free.  Why disturb this domestic tranquility that has been working so well?  Why disrupt the peace and politically divide the nation over religon?  What kind of a President knowingly disturbs the nation's  peace and harmony having been advised of the danger od doin so by his new regulations? And why?  The author does not have any explaination about the President's  poor judgement and destructive actions against the Religous Liberties and religious peace of all citizens. 
ed gleason
5 years 8 months ago
W. Donahue has never heard about the Quaker & Mennonite consciencous objectors who cleaned up poop in mental institutions for 4 years during WWII. They did not whine either. neither he nor a bishop will be fined or spend a a dime on this BC issue. ... go away 
ed gleason
5 years 8 months ago
Before we Lib/Dems get too outraged about some of the bishops stances, lets have some compassion for the poor, celibate gay oriented priests who have to read that bishop written letter about Obama's BC assault on Catholic concsiences ... and read it out loud to a congregation of gray haired people. . next week SNL may do a skit..
O tempora O mores.
Jim McCrea
5 years 8 months ago
Yes, Dennisv, it's all a pinko commie Ugandan homo-sex-youall plot, don't you know?
C Walter Mattingly
5 years 8 months ago
I am in agreement with Kevin Clarke on this issue.

The president has caved ("accommodated" is the term he prefers) on the issue, but more importantly, he has in the eyes of many centrists been outed as an opponent of religious communities as constituted in the US in general and the Catholic church in particular, attempting to cordon off their influence and operations by fighting vouchers for the inner city poor to the death, attempting to reduce/restrict the deductibility of charitable donations to attack the financing of churches, schools, hospitals, etc, promoting proabortion Catholic women who generally oppose the Church's positions such as Sebelius and Sotomayor for maximum divisive effect, and other such activities.

Sister Keenan and Father Jenkins are not fools. They may pronounce themselves "satisfied" with the change, but they now know what the modus operandi of President Obama is: he will promise one thing but do another if it benefits his agenda, which is to amass all power in the federal bureaucracy.

But those opposing this sort of conduct by the administration and wishing to end it can take a lesson from President Obama, who is a slick political operative. When the republicans bumbled the payroll tax issue at the end of the year, Obama said very little. He allowed the issue to resonate on its own. A drag out fight over what remains will distract from the sting that is felt by what the president actually did, but was forced to reverse by his own liberal constituency. Let it resonate for the upcoming elections.. Don't distract from it by an extended battle. Opponents of Obama need that stunned disaproval in the president's actions that Mark Shields so eloquently portrayed on PBS to be remembered by centrist swing voters come November.

C Walter Mattingly
5 years 8 months ago
Tom (20),
I realize that. My point here is we will be dealing with this sort of unconstitutional power grab as long as Obama remains in office. What, therefore, is the best response to the situation that will help effect his removal in November?  What is the enduring memory (enduring in America being limited to about 9 months) that will be in the minds of centrist Catholic and other voters when the election comes around?

Not since Harry Reid chastised President Obama in prime time for attempting to negotiate away for Israel lands it currently occupies has there been anything so damaging as this to the president's reelection campaign. Everyone from E.J. Dionne to John Kerry to even his own VP Joe Biden objected. That image of Mark Shields, a liberal Catholic Obama supporter to the end, raging against the president's decision needs to be kept in the public's mind. The betrayal of his word to his liberal Catholic supporters Fr Jenkins and Sister Keenan is fixed in their minds as well. They now know they can't count on his word, that he is not trustworthy.

But public opinion is a fickle thing. I think the bishops should speak out their minds against what he has done, but don't continue to drive on the issue. Liberal Catholic and other democrats have done that work for us. Take him to court, but it is no longer necessary to rage against his unconstitutional power grab. Let the issue go through court, along with the other unconstitutionally questionable actions of thispresident. They are accumulating a weight of their own. But don't overplay the hand. It would, I think, be counterproductive and work against the desireable goal of promoting the president to his new career as an Al Green-style singer in 2013. 
Vince Killoran
5 years 8 months ago
Chaput's op ed. is a hoot-lots of bragging about how much Catholic charities contribute to the community but no reflection on how tax dollars keep Catholic institutions afloat.

He doesn't explain exactly why the Obama Administration's concessions are sufficient.
ed gleason
5 years 8 months ago
Walter M rightly points out the religious conscience objections have consequences. Quakers Mennonites cleaned poop for 4 years.. Bishops who object to health mandate will do what?
Romney's grandfather was hounded out of the USA to Mexico for religious liberty issues and all the Catholic bishops had letters written and read that said 'good riddance'. They will now vote GOP to make amends?.  
Marie Rehbein
5 years 8 months ago
Carlos, why do call President Obama "the little Nero" ? Is President Obama little compared to you?  Did you mean to write Nero, referring to the Roman Emperor, or did you misspell what you really wanted to write?  I get the impression that the little thing is your intelligence and that your comment should be removed.  I almost reported it, but I thought you should be noticed by more people for your rudeness.
Tom Maher
5 years 8 months ago
Marie Rehbein (# 32)

Carlos' words and meaning are plain enough. 

Reference to Nero of course, as most people would quickly recognize, invokes the history and collective memory of Roman Emperor Nero who is infamously and forever known for his systematic persecution of Christian in the earliest days of the Church.  Aptly enough, our most unwise President's attack on the Church's religious liberties is being compared to the earlist attack on the Church by Roman Emperor Nero. 

It should be no surprsie to anyone that when a 21st century President attacka religious liberties bad things start to happen.  And people do mind and remember.   But one should fully expect  intense criticism the President for attacking the Church.  It is possilbe that President Obama, like Nero, for attacking the Church will be remembered infamously forever.

So why misinterprete Carlos' words when he is saying what he thinks: the President is acting like an first century Roman Emperor.  
Joshua DeCuir
5 years 8 months ago
Rick Garnett has posted an open letter, signed now by over a hundred academics and clergy, objecting to the "accomodation" announced on Friday.  Signees include, in addition to CUA President John Garvey & Mary Ann Glendon, Jean Bethke Elshtain & Michael McConnell - perhaps the leading legal academic on religious liberty who recently served on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

http://www.becketfund.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Unacceptable-9-am-2-13-12.pdf
Marie Rehbein
5 years 8 months ago
Josh, who are the "they" who criticize Paul Ryan, and what do they say?  I googled him and it came up with "Paul Ryan faces criticism for pricey $350 wine purchase" and "Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich apologized to Rep. Paul Ryan on Tuesday after panning Ryan’s Medicare plan as 'right-wing social engineering'" and "Paul Ryan steps up sharp criticism of Obama 'class warfare' tactics".
Amy Ho-Ohn
5 years 8 months ago
IMHO, the Bishies and their supporters should go on arguing about remote material cooperation and human teleology and the sanctity of zygotic life indefinitely, if they really can't think of any problem more pressing to address. Who knows, something useful may come of it someday, after all.

But these disputations aren't relevant to the question of whether employees of Catholic institutions will get contraception anymore. In fact, it turns out they were beside the point all along. When the customer and the insurance company both estimate it is in their interest for the customer to have insurance for something, the customer's employer's opinion is not relevant. He is, of course, free to pressure her with excommunication, interdiction, witchcraft accusations, and other spiritual penalties. But he can't prevent her from contracting with the insurance company for something that is mutually beneficial to them both. The freedom to buy and sell as one wishes to whomever one wishes as long as nobody else is harmed is a fundamental prerequisite for a flourishing capitalist economy, and pretty thorougly enshrined in American law.

Secular law is secular; it recognizes as its object only goods which are empirically obvious, like life, health, profit and the reduction of suffering and disability. Doctrinal revelations from fairies, ghosties, Jaysus, Raël and the Abominable Snowman have no influence. The Church will have to try persuading by Reason, instead of political muscle. Her political muscles seem a bit atrophied in these days anyway.
Vince Killoran
5 years 8 months ago
At #26 I meant "insufficient"!

Ed is right (when the last time a bishop put his body on the protest line?); so is Amy (it's pathetic that the USCCB thinks it can leverage it's First Amendment pleadings into having insurance companies drop contraceptive coverage to all women).  The Knights of Columbus at our parish tried to muscle people into signing form letters after Mass this morning. The letter was utter nonsense with no sense of the contents of the HHS compromise.
Carlos Orozco
5 years 8 months ago
Bishops should accept "their" victory? I'd call that a partial victory of THE WHOLE Catholic Church in America. It is Obama, the little Nero, that has begun the fight. It is the choosing of the Church in the United States when the fight is over. ;)
Vince Killoran
5 years 8 months ago
Although Carlos seems to be in a foul mood this evening(after all, he is defending the Faith those who disagree with him aren't) I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he doesn't know that "nero" means "black" in Italian. President Obama="Little Nero"?

I think it has a somewhat derogatory meaning. . .?
Carlos Orozco
5 years 8 months ago
Furthermore, where are so many Catholics that justly condemed the George W. Bush wars now? Have expansionist and senseless neocon wars been clearly rejected and set aside for the foreseeable future? Are the United States not months away from starting new wars in Syria and Iran? Has the Nobel Peace Prize President conducted warfare according to Christian "just war" doctrine? Did he work for for constitutional (congressional) approval to bomb Libya? Is it not true that the al-Qaeda black flag now stands atop juicial buildings in Benghazi (NYT piece)?

Has he closed Guantanamo and all illegal detention centers were "terrorists" are tortured? Did he veto the fascist NDAA bill (New Year present. Please, no photos) that declares the United States a battlefield of the preposterous War on Terror? Does not that same bill allow the military to indefinitely detain even American citizens without a trial? Does he not want to impose eugenics policies even to the Church, starting with contraception? Is there need to mention any more to be certain tha Barack Obama is a fraud?

Joshua DeCuir
5 years 8 months ago
The Bishops, but I could also add the Catholic academics who sent an open letter criticizing him as well.  Your use of the "the church" as the subject in the sentence I quoted is not exactly precise.

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