The following comes from a June 15 release from the Cardinal Newman Society.

The Catholic Health Association and its leader, Obamacare advocate Sister Carol Keehan, have apparently reversed their position and now stand in opposition to the Obama administration’s inadequate “accommodation” on the contraceptive mandate. Kudos for that!

But as is becoming a tiresome habit for the Catholic Healthcare Association, they aren’t standing entirely with the bishops. The healthcare group says in today’s letter that it wants the contraceptive mandate’s exemption “broadened to cover all ministries of the Church,” just as the bishops have argued.

Yet in direct contradiction to the bishops, Catholic Healthcare is pushing for a new definition of religious organizations that could prove even worse than the Obama administration’s current language. And if accepted, the healthcare group’s definition could be a disaster for the cause of religious liberty and for Catholic higher education.

The Cardinal Newman Society has been warning about this since last December, after the Catholic Healthcare Association and the University of Notre Dame both recommended to Kathleen Sebelius similar solutions, drawing on language in Section 414(e) of the Internal Revenue Code that exempts church-related pension plans from the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

We explained in our press release last December:

Under Section 414(e), exemption from federal law is available only to an organization that is “controlled by or associated with a church or a convention or association of churches,” meaning that the organization must at least share “common religious bonds and convictions with [its] church or convention or association of churches.”

In 2001 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit said that three factors bear primary consideration when deciding whether an organization shares “common religious bonds and convictions” with a church: 1) whether the religious institution plays any official role in the governance of the organization; 2) whether the organization receives assistance from the religious institution; and 3) whether a denominational requirement exists for any employee or patient/customer of the organization.

We warned that such a definition of religious organizations could exclude many Catholic institutions, depending on how strictly the courts apply the Fourt Circuit test, and would certainly exclude nondenominational Christian schools, colleges, charities and other organizations that are not affiliated with a recognized “church.”

Nevertheless, CHA is at it again. Today’s letter to HHS states:

We reiterate our suggestion contained in our September 22nd letter that the concepts contained in Section 414(e) be used instead to develop a broader and more appropriate religious employer exemption to the contraceptive mandate. Under those principles, an organization would be covered by the exemption if it “shares common religious bonds and convictions with a church.”

Never mind that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops clearly rejected the 414(e) language in its own letter to HHS last September.

“…[S]uch an exemption would be inadequate, because it would fail to protect many stakeholders with a moral or religious objection to contraceptives or sterilization, including individuals, insurers, and even many religiously affiliated organizations….”

To read the entire blog posting, Click here.


Posted Wednesday, June 20, 2012 5:22 AM By Ted
Any organization using the word “Catholic” in its name should be subject to the authority of the Church hierarchy, in the person of the local bishop. They should not depart from Catholic teachings, nor should they be tolerated as long as they do so. If the bishops continue to act as if they traded their manhood in for their miter, the faithful will continue to lose respect for them. Lead, follow, or get out of the way, gentlemen.

Posted Wednesday, June 20, 2012 6:52 AM By Amy
The picture of Sister Carol Keehan standing beside Pres. Obama when he signed the Health Care Bill will stand forever in the minds of most people. Will she return the $800,000 she received which probably went to the LCWR and the pen? Sister Carol Keehan is a big part of the problem with the Obamacare Health Care Bill. She backed it 100 per cent. It is a little late now to change her mind?

Posted Wednesday, June 20, 2012 7:22 AM By JLS
The bishops should hire more lawyers to find ways to secure more govt money flow … this will solve the problem.

Posted Wednesday, June 20, 2012 7:28 AM By Laurette Elsberry
The closer we get to the November election, the more “Catholic” Obama and his minions will become. As soon as Catholics help Obama get reelected, the facade will disappear and Catholics will be in the cross-hairs more than ever. Listen up, this will include the Catholic bishops who helped Obama with his takeover of our country in 2008.

Posted Wednesday, June 20, 2012 7:31 AM By Marie
If Catholic Healthcare west does not agree with the bishops why don’t they stay away until they agree with Catholic values?

Posted Wednesday, June 20, 2012 7:31 AM By JMJ
We need to get rid, not only Obamacare, but, especially Obamanism, and these so-called ‘catholics”: priests, bishops, cardinals, nuns, politicians and laymen that say “I’m catholic, but” need to get back into the True Catholic Church once again and ask for God’s Mercy and forgiveness before God says ENOUGH!! +JMJ+

Posted Wednesday, June 20, 2012 10:54 AM By Bakersfield Crusader
Using Sr. Keehan’s logic and determination to put let politics shape her faith, Planned Parenthood should be so lucky as not to face this dilemma, since it wouldn’t be able to claim the religious conscience exemption. Certainly it would not have to worry about covering natural family planning sessions for employees who are against birth control or paying for the care of their babies whom they decided not to abort despite having defects that were prenatally diagnosed.

Posted Wednesday, June 20, 2012 1:36 PM By Bob One
JMJ, if we replace “Obamacare” (by the way, it was enacted by a majority of the House and Senate), how will we provide health insurance and health care to the millions of people in our country who cannot afford health insurance (about $1,200 per month for a family plan)? Should the quality of healthcare be predicated on your income or wealth? Should you not be able to get health care insurance if you have been sick previously? Should health care decisions be made by low level technicians at the insurance company rather than you and your doctor? Our current system has terrible outcomes compared to the rest of the industrialized world. Catholic teaching requires us to take care of our brothers and sisters in need. There are some great medical delivery systems already working in this country, and at a lower cost than charged by regular insurance companies; Kaiser-Permanenty is a good example. Why is the United States, the riches country in the world or close to it the only major nation that does not believe that it’s citizens should have good health care? Tell me how we can survive as a nation if we are willing to let people be sick and die because they can’t afford high priced insurance. It’s not Catholic!!!!!!

Posted Wednesday, June 20, 2012 1:45 PM By Brian S
All this ‘lead or follow’ rhetoric reminds me of the story of Truman predicting how Eisenhower would be frustrated by the Presidency. “He’ll sit here,” Truman would remark (tapping his desk for emphasis), “and he’ll say, ‘Do this! Do that!’ And nothing will happen. Poor Ike-it won’t be a bit like the Army.” Of course, this probably betrayed Truman’s lack of understanding of the frustrations of a Commander more than it reflected Eisenhower’s experience. In a similar vein, so do the exhortations here for Bishops to adopt attitudes better suited to drill instructors.

Posted Wednesday, June 20, 2012 10:37 PM By Cole Thornton
Hurray for Sister Carol! Many bishops believe pretty much what Sister Carol does but she’s the only religious with the cahonies to stick her neck out unlike many bishops who have to pretend they are supportive of their fellow bishops and tow the ‘old boys club’ line to get along.

Posted Thursday, June 21, 2012 11:12 AM By Canisius
Hey Bob one no where in our constitution is government permitted to force us to purchase things we do not want. I know things like constitution get in the way of your utopian ideas, but thank God for that. You say this this was passed by congress, but you did not state it was strictly along party lines, and the worse kind of politically bribery was used to pass it. Secondly, this laws was not about covering the uninsured, if the idiots in washington wanted to do that why not just expand medicare or medicaid, reason? they want nationalize the entire health care system to send more power and money to washington so bureaucrats can make medical decisions for the rest of us. Finally I should not have to pay for your healthcare, but you are a liberal and I guess you think everything really just belongs to the glorious State. May this awful law be struck down and Obama voted out and Democrats brought to their knees

Posted Thursday, June 21, 2012 1:06 PM By Kenneth M. Fisher
Bob One. Re.: “Catholic teaching requires us to take care of our brothers and sisters in need.”, please read that again. The word is US not the hedonistic government. When are you liberals finally going to realize that whenever you give the government more authority over your lives, you give them more cause to insist that you support their often immoral and unconstitutional holds on our lives? Insurance is not insurance when the guaranteed result is a loss such as insuring some one for something you know they already have. If we got the government out of this business for which it is not constitutionally called for, we could probably get the cost of medicine down. Those who did not insure themselves for various reasons can and should be taken care of by private Institutions and Charities, that is unless we know that they just didn’t wan’t to bothered with paying for insurance when they were relative healthy. St. Peter said “If a man will not work, let him not eat”, and that same principle could be applied to those who refused when they could do so, to pay for health insurance. God bless, yours in Their Hearts, Kenneth M. Fisher