Amidst the good news about the large number of young people from Boston who went to the March for Life, the bad news is the Obama administration announced last Friday that faith-based entities like Catholic hospitals and Catholic universities will have to provide employees with free birth control as part of their insurance packages. The mandate will also force such groups to pay for sterilizations and FDA-approved abortifacient drugs such as Ella under the umbrella of “contraception.”
BCI is posting on this topic with a message to Boston Catholics and Cardinal O’Malley because his words in reacting to such news were disappointing, and we hope for the sake of the unborn and the archdiocese that he will adopt a different approach in the future. Our Cardinal walks in the annual March for Life, but outside of that, he does not always walk the talk. Keep reading.
USCCB President, Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan of New York, called the Obama administration rule “literally unconscionable.” It is exactly that.
Here is a short video statement by Cardinal-designate Dolan. He sharply criticized the decision by the Obama administration in which it “ordered almost every employer and insurer in the country to provide sterilization and contraceptives, including some abortion-inducing drugs, in their health plans.”
“Never before has the federal government forced individuals and organizations to go out into the marketplace and buy a product that violates their conscience. This shouldn’t happen in a land where free exercise of religion ranks first in the Bill of Rights,” Cardinal-designate Dolan said.
As LifeSiteNews reported, the mandate is being implemented as part of the new health care legislation that was passed in March 2010 despite vigorous opposition from U.S. Catholic bishops, who called it dangerously open to being used as a means of spreading abortion.
Here is an excerpt from the National Catholic Register, “HHS Secretary Sebelius: Church Groups Must Provide Contraception.”
WASHINGTON — Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, confirmed today that church-affiliated hospitals, agencies and universities will be required to provide contraception and sterilization in the health insurance they provide employees.
However, nonprofit religious institutions will receive an additional year to accommodate this controversial regulation covered under the new health bill, with an extended deadline of August 2013.
In a blow to the U.S. bishops and Catholic institutions that had lobbied for a broader exemption for church-affiliated organizations, the HHS secretary released a statement Jan. 20 approving the final rule for mandated preventive services for women. Houses of worship are exempted from the rule.
“I believe this proposal strikes the appropriate balance between respecting religious freedom and increasing access to important preventive services,” Sebelius said. “The administration remains fully committed to its partnerships with faith-based organizations, which promote healthy communities and serve the common good. And this final rule will have no impact on the protections that existing conscience laws and regulations give to health-care providers.”
The secretary’s judgment was broadly contested by a range of Catholic leaders and religious-freedom advocates.
“In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences,” said Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in a statement.
The cardinal-designate continued, “To force American citizens to choose between violating their consciences and forgoing their healthcare is literally unconscionable. It is as much an attack on access to health care as on religious freedom. Historically this represents a challenge and a compromise of our religious liberty.”
The suggestion by Sebelius that this move respects religious freedom is nothing less than fallacy. And Sebelius considers herself “Catholic.”
This Catholic college said they would shut down before submitting to the abortifacient mandate. Read this article, “Sebelius in trouble with Catholic Church” for more about how Kathleen Sebelius has already been admonished against receiving Communion by two archbishops.
This piece in First Things give yet more color to the issue:
“…the Obama-Sebelius HHS rule forces countless Americans to purchase health insurance that violates their religious beliefs. And it forces religious organizations that seek to do good in the world–universities and schools, hospitals and clinics, adoption and social-service agencies, soup kitchens and clothing banks–to violate the consciences of their religious communities if they want to continue to do all these good things. Cover abortifacients and sterilizations in your employee health plan, the little Christian school down the road from you will be told. The choices will be a) violate your conscience, b) drop your health coverage and propel your employees into the government-run “exchanges” awaiting them with all the tender mercy of federal bureaucrats, or c) close up shop. Some choices.”
BCI agrees with Archbishop Dolan this move is unconscionable. Frankly, it is outrageous. It is oddly coincidental how the announcement was timed two days before the 39th anniversary of Roe v Wade and three days before the March for Life.
Cardinal Sean O’Malley posted on his blog about the move. In a post entitled, “Literally unconscionable,” he said “we are distressed” to learn about the requirement by the Obama administation, and “I join Cardinal–elect Dolan in expressing deep disappointment at this unprecedented infringement on religious liberty in our country.” Later in the post, he urged readers to contact elected officials and urge them to protect our right to religious liberty guaranteed by the First Amendment.
Some may accuse BCI of parsing words, but words can be powerful. It is the observation of BCI and others that the Cardinal O’Malley has a pattern of expressing mere “disappointment” with those who advocate for abortion or infringe on the rights of Catholics to practice our faith (instead of “outrage”), but his language has been much more strident to pro-life Catholics when he is crossed by them standing up for Catholics beliefs and principles. For example:
- In writing about his presiding over the Ted Kennedy funeral on his blog in 2009, Cardinal O’Malley said of Kennedy, there is a “tragic sense of lost opportunity in his lack of support for the unborn. To me and many Catholics it was a great disappointment…” In the words of the Cardinal, it was a “lost opportunity” and “great disappointment” that Kennedy actively supported the killing of more than 50M unborn babies in the womb, but in the same blog post, Cardinal O’Malley used harsh language to criticize pro-lifers who complained about the funeral, saying, “At times, even in the Church, zeal can lead people to issue harsh judgments and impute the worst motives to one another. These attitudes and practices do irreparable damage to the communion of the Church.”
- Cardinal O’Malley allowed a 2010 Boston Social Justice Conference to feature a BC priest, Fr. Thomas Massaro SJ, who signed a public letter supporting Kathleen Sebelius for HHS Secretary. According to published minutes of an Archdiocesan Pastoral Council meeting, the Cardinal dismissed complaints by council members about this matter, saying he “takes Fr. Massaro’s work in the context of the priest’s life of service to the Church.” Now that same HHS Secretary, Sebelius, is forcing an unprecedented infringement on our religious liberty.
- Cardinal O’Malley still retains Jack Connors as Boston Archdiocese Finance Council member, fund-raiser and adviser while Connors raises millions of dollars for the most pro-abortion president in U.S. history and while Connors works against the Catholic Church by chairing Partners Healthcare, one of the largest abortion providers in the commonwealth. Yet Cardinal O’Malley fails to try and rally Connors to support abortion alternatives in Boston, or to insist that his advocacy for those who support abortion is incompatible with him serving in a senior advisory and fund-raising role.
- Back in 2009 when pro-life Catholics complained that the proposed Caritas Christi arrangement with the Commonwealth Care program would result in referrals to abortion providers, the Cardinal reacted on his blog by criticizing pro-life Catholics for “doing a great disservice to the Catholic Church.”
In view of this latest news, Cardinal O’Malley will have his work cut out for him as the chair-elect of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities. This LifesiteNews article published shortly after he was elected to the role sums it up nicely:
“In recent years Cardinal O’Malley has had an at-times strained relationship with the United States’ pro-life movement. While known for his doctrinal orthodoxy on life and family issues, he has also been criticized by pro-life and pro-family leaders for certain prudential decisions.”
Cardinal O’Malley will need to take strong, decisive action to oppose the latest move by the Obama administration. He spoke to President Obama at the Ted Kennedy funeral about ObamaCare, which now, forces Catholic institutions to violate their moral principles on contraception. What will be next?
Beyond the symbolic gesture of leading the pilgrimage of young people down to Washington for the March for Life and beyond the blog post, what else will the chair-elect of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities due to rally Boston Catholics to address this new unconscionable policy by the Obama administration, the ongoing evil of abortion and the damage abortion does to women, and the continued unconscionable retaining of a Finance Council member/fund-raiser who supports politicians and institutions that work against the Catholic Church?