“What’s the government got against the Catholic Church?” asks USCCB media director.

The following is from the Media Blog of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. It was posted Friday, March 9, by Sister Mary Ann Walsh, director of media relations for the USCCB.

The Amish are exempt from the entire health care reform law. So are members of Medi-Share, a program of Christian Care Ministry. Yet, when the Catholic Church asks for a religious exemption from just one regulation issued under the law – the mandate that all employers, including religious institutions, must pay for sterilization and contraceptives, including abortion-inducing drugs – the Administration balks.

The government respects the First Amendment that guarantees the right to freely exercise one’s religious beliefs, but only to a point. In the health care law it picks and chooses which beliefs it respects. The Amish do not believe in insurance, and the government understands. Christian Care Ministry believes people should form a religious community and pay medical bills for one another, and the government says okay. Yet when the Catholic Church opposes being forced to pay for services that violate its beliefs, the Administration says “tough.”

What is so special about this mandate that it cannot be touched? It was added after Congress passed the health care law and offers no exemption for religious charitable or educational institutions. It will not accept Catholic charities and schools as “religious enough” unless they hire only Catholics, serve only Catholics, have the narrow tax exempt status granted to houses of worship, and teach religion as their purpose.

Amazingly, this mandate has more force than the overall health care law. In fact recent regulations allow states to decide which “essential health benefits” to require in health plans, such as hospitalization, prescription drugs and pediatric services. At the same time, all insurance plans must include the objectionable services mentioned above. Here federal law trumps state law and threatens to fine into submission institutions that dare oppose it. The going rate is at least $100 per day per employee.

What has the government got against the Catholic Church? Has it forgotten the contributions the church has made to the poor and needy for centuries?

Catholic elementary and secondary schools provide the only real alternative to public schools in many parts of the nation. Catholic colleges offer outstanding education, be it at the university or the community college. The contribution has a long history, back to 1789 when Georgetown University was founded by the Jesuits. Yet under the health care law, if these schools and colleges wish to remain faithful to their religious principles the government will fine them into submission. There’s a thank-you note.

Many Catholic hospitals were founded by religious orders of women, and today one out of six persons seeking hospital care in the United States goes to a Catholic hospital. Until now, religious background of the patient has not been an issue. “Where does it hurt?” is the first question, not “Where is your baptismal certificate?” This approach threatens to deny hospitals any real protection as “religious employers” under the new rule. Yet their Catholicity means many of these hospitals have an added benefit. At Providence Hospital in Washington, DC, for example, patients not only get medical care, they can get clothing too if they need it. It comes through the Ladies of Charity, an auxiliary of the Daughters of Charity who founded the hospital in 1861.

Catholic social service agencies, including adoption and foster care agencies, parish food banks, and soup kitchens, meet human concerns. Services depend on need, not creed. Church sponsorship means the services have a little extra, be they volunteers from parishes, financial donations through diocesan appeals, or the dedication that comes from working for God as well as paycheck.

A Catholic might take personally the Administration’s dissing their beliefs. Lucky the Amish, who have their basic constitutional rights respected. If only we objected to health insurance generally, we might be able to enjoy the same protection. Seems odd that the Administration is more inflexible on contraception than on services that actually treat disease.


Posted Tuesday, March 13, 2012 1:48 AM By PETE
I hope all CATHOLICS including Bishops etc., have learned their lesson that Nationalized or Socialist medicine should NEVER be supported. We have turned over our very lives and death to the Government to make decisions for us. It will only get worse as health costs rise – euthanasia here we come – under Obama.

Posted Tuesday, March 13, 2012 2:03 AM By MAC
Bishops and their Priests need to start teaching about “latae sententiae” excommunication (Canon 1364), and start enforcing Canon 915 – by not permitting those who SCANDALOUSLY (in the public square) call themselves Catholic and speak against the teachings of the Church to receive Holy Communion. Until the leaders in the Church in the USA get serious about this, it is easy to see why relativism is an easy path (to hell). If Pelosi and others could not get away with calling themselves good Catholics in the media, there would be much less confusion.

Posted Tuesday, March 13, 2012 3:41 AM By Matthew
Simple. There aren’t 70M Amish. When the Catholic Church fails to comply with the HHS mandate, it will effectively force a change of the mandate. The Amish are not capable of wielding such influence.

Posted Tuesday, March 13, 2012 6:06 AM By Dan
The contraception issue is on the front burner because it will help Obama’s re-election campaign. The threat is that Catholics, so instrumental in electing Obama in 2008, might be thinking differently this time around due to his poor performance in the White House. He knows he has a winner in this diversionary tactic, and will milk it for all its worth. Notice Hillary Clinton chiming in about the “war on women.” Obama works with Machiavellian efficiency,

Posted Tuesday, March 13, 2012 6:20 AM By Ted
The last sentence should say “treat or prevent disease” in order to inform the government and the pro-aborts out there that pregnancy is NOT a disease. There is one solution to prvent pregnancy that costs nothing and is effective 100% of the time – abstinance. What the Obama administration is tring to do is to offer sex without consequence for those who want it, as if pregnancy is a preventable disease. It should not be included in the health care legislation of any sort as if it were a disease.

Posted Tuesday, March 13, 2012 6:33 AM By peter
I wasn’t aware that the Amish ran any major health care facilities or colleges, or employed in these institutions non-Amish. Interesting. Maybe it’s the groups that do the barn raisings that have a more diverse employee base?

Posted Tuesday, March 13, 2012 6:59 AM By MacDonald
BEFORE anyone bashes Sister Mary Ann Walsh “for not wearing a traditional habit,” please let’s remember that Father Joseph Ratzinger in his earlier days wore a suit and tie, which was customary in Germany. There is a famous photograph of Fr. Ratzinger and Fr. Rahner, both in suit and tie, about ten years after Fr. Ratzinger was ordained a priest. In that country, priests are often identified by a “priest cross” worn on the lapel, as many Sisters wear nowadays.

Posted Tuesday, March 13, 2012 7:07 AM By Gabriel Espinosa 
Thank you sister for a well thought out analytic dissection.

Posted Tuesday, March 13, 2012 7:25 AM By JMJ
If “sister” Walsh would look into the big “o”s ideals, she would see that his form of government (OBAMANISM), which is a an accumulation of all of the evils of Hitler, Lenin, Marx, etc. is against God and all of His followers. The Amish mind their own business and so far, are not a threat to Obama and his destructive ideals. God allowed him to “win” in 2008ad, just to punish us and who knows what evil lurks in Nov. of 2012ad? Romney or Obama, it is scary to say the least. Lord, Jesus, I Trust In You!! +JMJ+

Posted Tuesday, March 13, 2012 7:45 AM By AA 
Amish have never bought insurance of any kind, they don’t apply for or use any state aid. I resent the fingers pointing at the Amish.

Posted Tuesday, March 13, 2012 8:50 AM By Jake
Why Catholics and not Amish. The answer lies within the article itself. 1 in 6 go to a Catholic hospital. The contraception issue is not about contraception which most Catholics ignore and the hierarchy has failed to teach. It will be the vehicle used to confiscate Catholic hospitals. Obama care has never been financially feasible with our aging population. If you can kill babies because they are a financial burden it is a small step to killing the elderly and disabled to solve this funding problem. The Catholic Church is the only institution that stands in the way and it must be remove. There is no room for accommodation. It will be contraception, confiscation, euthanasia – no options. We must face the fact that 70 million abortion have consequences.

Posted Tuesday, March 13, 2012 9:20 AM By Dave N.
The difference between the Amish and the Catholic Church is that the Amish practice what they preach. In the case of contraception, Catholics generally haven’t been practicing what the church teaches, nor did Catholic bishops and priests ever preach about it. And suddenly it’s a big issue of “conscience” when money is involved. How could someone with a straight face say that the average Catholic “doesn’t believe in contraception” in the same way an Amish person “doesn’t believe in health insurance.” It’s a ridiculous and hypocritical analogy; such antics will virtually ensure Obama’s re-election and Catholics will again have themselves to blame for four more years of this debacle. Oh, and nice habit, sister.

Posted Tuesday, March 13, 2012 9:30 AM By JLS
PETE, excellent and clear appraisal of the situation … but what is the solution? Complaining about the government’s persecution does not cause the govt any grief.

Posted Tuesday, March 13, 2012 9:32 AM By JLS
Matthew, the Church of 70 million is also not capable of wielding much good influence … it elected Obama with full knowledge of his pogrom.

Posted Tuesday, March 13, 2012 9:36 AM By JLS
The archetypes that are found in Holy Scripture (sadly so many cannot understand it, especially since it is written so well compared to the never ending explanations in other Church documents) … anyway, the archetypes are: 1. The Great Ho, 2. the False Prophet, 3. the Beast, 4. the Anti-Christ. These four archetypes cover all the bases of the enemy: Seduction, deception, intimidation, idolatry. Quibbling over the color of the enemy’s shoe laces hardly will win a spiritual war.

Posted Tuesday, March 13, 2012 10:20 AM By Nance
While I agree and am ADAMANTLY against the HHS mandate (I am adamantly against ANY form of government “healthcare” – Obamacare, too) I have to say…I’ll bet there are VERY FEW Amish looking to have an abortion OR to have access to birth control! They also don’t look to government for any sort of “handout” programs…they don’t lobby, they don’t participate, they don’t vote! So its sort of a “moot” point imo.

Posted Tuesday, March 13, 2012 10:45 AM By Marie
The new health care bill dba. Obama care should be repealed. Medicare as we knew it should be reinstated. A separate co-op type of insurance should be set up for those who cannot afford to pay the full premium or a separate welfare system from the curent welfare system.