USCCB to Pres. Obama: your supposed “accommodation” falls short

Today the U.S. Bishops issued a statement about the supposed “accommodation” proffered by the Obama Administration in regard to the anti-1st Amendment HHS Mandate.

HHS Proposal Falls Short In Meeting Church Concerns; Bishops Look Forward To Addressing Issues With Administration

February 7, 2013
Bishops look forward to finding acceptable solutions to shortcomings
Concerned that first-rate charities still given second-class status
Seek clarification on confusing finance plan

WASHINGTON—The Feb. 1 Notice of Proposed Rule making from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) [Obamatax] shows some movement by the Administration but falls short of addressing U.S. bishops’ concerns.

“Throughout the past year, we have been assured by the Administration that we will not have to refer, pay for, or negotiate for the mandated coverage. We remain eager for the Administration to fulfill that pledge [Don't hold your breath.] and to find acceptable solutions—we will affirm any genuine progress that is made, and we will redouble our efforts to overcome obstacles or setbacks,” said Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), in a February 7 statement. “Thus, we welcome and will take seriously the Administration’s invitation to submit our concerns through formal comments, and we will do so in the hope that an acceptable solution can be found that respects the consciences of all. At the same time, we will continue to stand united with brother bishops, religious institutions, and individual citizens who seek redress in the courts for as long as this is necessary.”

He listed three key areas of concern: [1] the narrow understanding of a religious ministry; [2] compelling church ministries to fund and facilitate services such as contraceptives, including abortion-inducing drugs, and sterilization that violate Catholic teaching; [3] and disregard of the conscience rights of for-profit business owners. These are the same concerns articulated by the USCCB Administrative Committee in its March 2012 statement, United for Religious Freedom.

Cardinal Dolan said the new proposal seemed to address one part of the church’s concern over the definition of a church ministry but stressed that “the Administration’s proposal maintains its inaccurate distinction among religious ministries.  [Just as the President and the administration purposely is twisting the meaning of "freedom of religion" into "freedom of worship".]

Lest we forget...

“It appears to offer second-class status to our first-class institutions in Catholic health care, Catholic education and Catholic charities. HHS offers what it calls an ‘accommodation[He's sooooo gracious, the President!] rather than accepting the fact that these ministries are integral to our church and worthy of the same exemption as our Catholic churches.”

Cardinal Dolan highlighted problems with the proposed “accommodation.”

“It appears that the government would require all employees in our ‘accommodated’ ministries to have the illicit coverage—they may not opt out, nor even opt out for their children—under a separate policy,” he said.

He also noted that “because of gaps in the proposed regulations, it is still unclear how directly these separate policies would be funded by objecting ministries, and what precise role those ministries would have in arranging for these separate policies. Thus, there remains the possibility that ministries may yet be forced to fund and facilitate such morally illicit activities.”

Cardinal Dolan also said the proposal refuses to acknowledge conscience rights of business owners who operate their businesses according to their faith and moral values.

“In obedience to our Judeo-Christian heritage, we have consistently taught our people to live their lives during the week to reflect the same beliefs that they proclaim on the Sabbath,” [Yes.  This rejoins what the President is trying to tear assunder.  The President would stress "freedom of worship" only, which means, effectively, that we Catholics can shut the hell up in the public square.  "Freedom of worship" is private not public.  Freedom of religion is both.] Cardinal Dolan said. “We cannot now abandon them to be forced to violate their morally well-informed consciences.”

The statement is attached.

Click HERE for the whole thing.

Remember my post on “The Most Tragikal Hystory of Obama I”? HERE.

I may need to write another scene.

Obama Unleashed

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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26 Responses to USCCB to Pres. Obama: your supposed “accommodation” falls short

  1. Bryan Boyle says:

    And the probability that the Emperor and his minions give a fig and will do more than promise to ‘consider’ the bishop’s concerns?

    Didn’t know that there was a probability of less than zero percentage.

    The USCCB has been carrying the water for the Party of Death for so long that they don’t even realize, corporately, they’re nothing but window dressing and useful idiots to wrap the party line with some semblence of religious responsibility and ethos.

    Now they’re trying to be relevant. Yeah, we’ll see how the Windswept House will be able to resist the Furies arrayed against them.

  2. Supertradmum says:

    Did the USCCB honestly believe POTUS would change his steam-rolling agenda for them? I think it was terribly naive to suppose that those who voted for him did not give him the perfect mandate to do whatever he wants to do. Dec. 24th, 2009 was the turning point in American history-not January 1, 2013.

    Of course, the Marxist in the White House and his Chicago cronies know that the Catholic Church is the only institution which can stand up to tyrannies. That is why this bill is so specific, to hit at the root of Catholic health care and our resistance to abortion and contraception.

    The USCCB has only itself to blame for allowing the mealy-mouthed Forming Consciences
    For Faithful Citizenship not to stress the importance of voting against the Democratic party platform, which, since the late 1990s, has supported Roe v. Wade and recently, civil marriage.

    The weakness of leadership is beyond belief, but we are seeing the results of such…..Not rocket science.

  3. DisturbedMary says:

    The USCCB response baa to HHS continues to be one of baa making the legal argument. Fine. But baa even if the institutional church is saved, baa, what happens to baa us sheep baa? Where baa is my shepherd baa? Will the shepherds baa go back baa to business as usual if the baa threat is resolved baa to their satisfaction? Will they baa leave us to survive baa on our own? Baa. Baa.

  4. joan ellen says:

    USCCB to Pres. Obama: your supposed “accommodation” falls short
    Posted on 7 February 2013 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

    ‘“In obedience to our Judeo-Christian heritage, we have consistently taught our people to live their lives during the week to reflect the same beliefs that they proclaim on the Sabbath,”’ “[Yes. This rejoins what the President is trying to tear assunder. The President would stress "freedom of worship" only, which means, effectively, that we Catholics can shut the hell up in the public square. '"Freedom of worship"' is private not public. Freedom of religion is both.]” “Cardinal Dolan said.” ‘“We cannot now abandon them to be forced to violate their morally well-informed consciences.”’

    Nice reinforcement about living our beliefs, and a clear distinction here: ‘”Freedom of worship”‘ is private not public. Freedom of religion is both.]”

  5. wmeyer says:

    Did the USCCB honestly believe POTUS would change his steam-rolling agenda for them?

    Again and again. We must recall the definition of insanity….

  6. wmeyer says:

    The USCCB has been carrying the water for the Party of Death for so long that they don’t even realize, corporately, they’re nothing but window dressing and useful idiots to wrap the party line with some semblence of religious responsibility and ethos.

    Bryan, I have to agree. Each time I see some new release from the USCCB I find myself wondering whether the bishops ever consult the CCC.

  7. AvantiBev says:

    Fellow Catholics, search on Dr. Ben Carson’s name + reply to Obamacare. Or check for his books on Amazon.

    No surprises in this article. I have respectfully disagreed with our bishops for 40 years on issues such as getting into the Great Society Bed & snuggling with Big Gov. When they and their predecessors cheerled for Nationalized Health Care it was already apparent in some European countries what the outcome would be. He who pays the piper calls the tune; Baby Boomers it will be our funeral march. Let’s stop confusing true Christian charity with tax increases to pay bureaucrats who mismanage programs that never sunset and thus have NO incentive to “cure” the problems they were set up to solve!

    I type this in Chi town, a city in which the fatherless outnumber those with fathers in the home thanks to govmt $$ to supplement misbehavior and timidity from the pulpit during the rise of the Sex Revolution. Reverend Jackson, Father Pfleger & company will march against guns but John 4: 1-23 will never be heard from their pulpits. Good intentions + government funds = the road to hell.

  8. Bea says:

    Addressing Issues With Administration?
    finding acceptable solutions?
    Haven’t the bishops yet learned that they are dealing with “Chicago politicos?”
    It’s their way or the highway.
    He’ll promise the moon and deliver a barren moonscape.

    There was an old joke floating around about God keeping a clock that moved when people lied.
    He pointed to one that had moved for just one second: Goeorge Washington’s clock.
    One that had not moved at all: Mother Teresa’s clock
    He was asked where was O’bama’s clock?
    Oh, that, it’s being used as a ceiling fan.

  9. Shamrock says:

    Bea…I love it!!! Thanks!! for my laugh for the day. Unfortunately it does ring with the sad truth
    of our times!

  10. Gail F says:

    I don’t think the USCCB imagined for one moment that an accommodation would really be made, much less a repeal. Not without a long and bitter legal fight, because as the mandate was unnecessary in the first place and the administration has stuck to it this far, they obviously weren’t going to back down. The bishops have to be diplomatic, and they had to wait for the government’s next move. Now, did a lot of people (and perhaps some bishops) think it would be otherwise? Probably. But I don’t think Dolan et al did — if they had there would never have been all those suits filed all over the country by Catholic entities. National politics is a chess game; they have to play it. I’m glad I don’t.

  11. I agree with supertradmum and Bryan on this…no more negotiations with evil…Evil can’t be negotiated with.

  12. chantgirl says:

    The USCCB should stand firm until every individual has the right to opt out of the mandate. Conscience rights do not just apply to churches, hospitals, and business owners.

  13. Bender says:

    The USCCB should stand firm until every individual has the right to opt out of the mandate

    Sorry, but real freedom does not mean having a right to opt out, but instead having the ability to opt in if everyone involved agrees — it means not being “in” in the first place as the default position.

  14. harrythepilgrim says:

    Doesn’t the HHS mandate mean that ALL citizens must pay for abortion and birth control when they pay for health insurance? When will the bishops start to worry about the consciences of the people in the pews?

  15. Supertradmum says:

    No offense, but the bill was online before it was passed. I read the women’s reproductive rights parts and other significant parts. Anyone had access to this. To be a good citizen is to find out what your representatives and senators are voting for…in Missouri, the pro-life groups tried to stop it.

    Now, we all have to face the consequences and decide whether we want to go to heaven or hell. Read the history of the families in the Reformation in England. Families were split, and many left for France. Sadly, now, there is no where to go.

    We shall have to decide to endure suffering. To be a Catholic, there is no other way. We can take out law suits and support politicians who are against this, and do our best, but I am afraid the die is cast.

  16. Legisperitus says:

    So the only acceptable faith is faith without works, which is dead. We may believe, but not act in accordance with those beliefs. The anti-incarnational agenda at work again.

  17. Supertradmum says:

    Legisperitus, where did you get that? We work until we are carried off to prison or shut up by the president when he shuts down the net for Catholic sites. We work very hard in local and national politics, etc. Prayer and work, but with the understanding that the days may be numbered.

    Read history.

  18. SKAY says:

    The cartoon captures Obama’s religious agenda perfectly. He is backing the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and look at what is happening to the Christians.

  19. Gail F says:

    Legisperitus: Good point! I will remember that one for future discussions. (Supertradmum: L wasn’t advocating that, he/she was saying that’s what the mandate allows us: faith without works, which isn’t how we Catholics roll.)

  20. Gail F says:

    Bender: “Opt in” is the philosophy of the Obama administration, made famous by Regulatory Czar Cass Sunstein — if you want people to do something (he calls it “nudging”) you make them have to opt out of something rather than opt in, because it takes effort and conviction to “opt” either way. When you make something a default but allow them to opt out, most people do it because it’s too much trouble to opt out. Because they have hte option to opt out, they don’t feel presumed upon, but they mostly do what they’re told.

  21. Johnno says:

    I don’t believe he’s ever going to do it.

    As a socialist he wants everyone to fall in line. And in order to meet ‘success’ he knows that the mroe involved the ‘better’ his socialist utopian dreams can be pulled off. He would have demanded Churches themselves pay for and hand out contraceptives if he could find a way to force it without making it too obvious to the general public. This is why there are all these dishonest roundabout wordings and talking points with regards to the mandate.

    And if any Catholics rebel, he’ll have some unnamed high government officials suspect them of terrorism and have them executed by executive order. Or he will fine the daylights out of everyone else. He holds all the cards. It will literally take a genuine Godly miracle to fix this situation.

    But the Church today largely doesn’t believe God will perform grand miracles anymore, so no one bothers to ask him except by insisting like the leper at the pools of Bethsaida that God provide a means only through his own narrow human rationality – in our case these are courts and democracy and biological solutions. But what rationale means shall work against a mass of people who are determined to be irrational? Only something that completely defies all human convention shall overcome this. The mandate of Obama’s is only a symptom of a much crazier problem.

  22. jhayes says:

    Cardinal Dolan clarifies that the bishops have not rejected the HHS proposal:

    “Yesterday, I issued a statement in my role as President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding the HHS mandate. Unfortunately, there were some news reports today that claimed the bishops “rejected” the White House proposal, ignoring the fact that we bishops said, “we welcome and will take seriously the Administration’s invitation to submit our concerns through formal comments, and we will do so in the hope that an acceptable solution can be found that respects the consciences of all.”

    http://blog.archny.org/index.php/statement-on-the-notice-of-proposed-rulemaking-regarding-the-hhs-mandate/

  23. maryh says:

    The president can’t shut down the net for Catholic sites. He doesn’t own OR control the internet and he CAN’T.

  24. catholicmidwest says:

    Legisperitus and others,
    Works of faith do not have to be done through the government, or for that matter, through large Catholic apostolates. Even St. Maximilian Kolbe was able to perform exceedingly good works even in a concentration camp. This cannot be taken from you.

    Johnno,
    You said a very wise thing: “But the Church today largely doesn’t believe God will perform grand miracles anymore, so no one bothers to ask him except by insisting like the leper at the pools of Bethsaida that God provide a means only through his own narrow human rationality – in our case these are courts and democracy and biological solutions. ”
    Certainly, we must pursue everything at our disposal to remedy the troubles we face with this mandate, but we must also remember that we do not fight alone. You said, “Only something that completely defies all human convention shall overcome this.” And of course that something, or rather Someone, is God.

  25. jhayes says:

    Bishop Robert Lynch gives a positive response to the revised regulations:

    “It has been eight days since the Department of Health and Human Services has issued its latest attempt at regulations covering what is called the “contraceptive mandate” as contained in the Affordable Health Care Act (“Obamacare”). The regulations are some eighty pages in length but two thirds of those pages outline the management of the funds for the program once fully implemented. Every bishop in the country now has access to legal opinions on how these revised regulations will effect the Church’s approach and response to the “mandate.” I and almost every other bishop have waited while our own attorneys have studied the “regs” in detail and I also have the added assistance as a member of the Catholic Health Association Board of Directions of having listened to their General Counsel’s careful opinion of what influence these new regulations would have on Catholic Health Care interests. The wise and prudent approach has suggested not rushing into comments without the assistance of those more skilled in reading and understanding government “legalese” than most bishops. So what follows are my personal impressions of the Administration’s latest proposals.

    1. Clearly, the Administration has been desirous of listening to and accommodating the concerns of Catholics and other people and institutions of conscience, like myself, who had real worries about the regulatory language in possession up till last Friday. There has been a serious effort to accommodate some of the conscience concerns of the Catholic bishops and some expression of gratitude is due to the Administration, I feel.

    2. One would be hard put to find any other segment of the American public whose concerns about the Affordable Health Care Act have attempted to be dealt with than those of the Catholic bishops and other like-minded people on this very important matter. There have been moments when I think we should consider ourselves lucky that they are still talking to us.

    3. The result has been that many of our concerns, about religious freedom and conscience have been attempted to be met. For me the first attempt of the government to define religious ministry outside of our houses of worship has been addressed in the removal all together of the first three prongs of the prior definition and I am personally at peace with this aspect of the challenge.

    4. By opening again, for the third time, a comment period (all must be submitted by April 8th), the Administration has offered an invitation to all interested parties, the Catholic bishops included, to raise any additional concerns which this new draft may have given birth to. There are no promises and anyone who has worked in Washington, as I have, should be prepared for the reality that whatever finds it way into law eventually will be “imperfect” in some way, but so was the much missed “Hyde Amendment.” Cardinal Dolan has made it clear subsequent to the statement issued by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops that the USCCB has not rejected the HHS draft but seeks to continue to explore progress on some points which would lead to improvement.

    5. As a former teacher of English (long ago), I find any discussion of the difference between exemption and accommodation to be interesting because as I look them both up in the OXFORD DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE I am led to believe that it is a distinction without a difference. I find this especially true when studying the manner in which HHS would allow other religious entities for whom the mandate presents an issue of “conscience” to decide that they were worthy of the accommodation. Not many other entities of American life are treated with this level of trust (and this would be especially true of the tax code) and some thanks should also be due to the Administration for trying to find a solution which might satisfy us and other constituencies who think otherwise.

    6. In the last eight days or so, I have found myself wondering who speaks for the Church? Cardinals, archbishops and bishops are certainly entitled to their opinions (as I hope I am amply demonstrating in this blog post) but since the Second Vatican Council, our collegial voice has almost always been the elected leader of our episcopal conference, currently Cardinal Dolan. His opinion is certainly not binding on every Catholic, but should be accorded greater respect than any of us. But he speaks for the bishops who elected him, as did his predecessors and as will his successors, not necessarily for the whole Church.

    7. Which brings me to my final point. As far as I know, at no time up to yesterday (Friday)since the new HHS regs were made available for review and public comment, has anyone from the conference structure consulted with legal counsel for other entities in the Church (hospitals, college and universities, Catholic Charities)to ask their read on how this proposal will affect their ministry. Yet the USCCB statement, it seems, would have one believe that the above mentioned entities might fairly have their “noses out-of-joint” because they are being given consideration under the “accommodation” and not the “exemption.” I did not leave this week’s Board of Director’s meeting of the Catholic Health Association thinking that all those CEO’s of systems and related members felt they were being treated as second class citizens by these new regulations. Perhaps we bishops need a little more humility from time to time, recognizing that we are not the only “game in town” but that there are other players, women and men of great faith who also love the Church, and who can speak for themselves and their organizations, on what effect legislation, proposed legislation, regulations will have on their ministry. A more collaborative effort might lead to greater results.

    We still have time to work to smooth out some of the rough waters which lie ahead. As one member, I would hope that our episcopal conference might be as open to listening to the issues and challenges which government seems to face as I believe they have been so far in hearing our concerns. But in the end, everyone must prepare themselves for what is likely to be imperfect regulations drawn from imperfect legislation. I still am grateful that that more universal health care coverage will be the first fruit of the Affordable Care Act and I am beginning to feel that I can say to my diocesan self-insured employees, all 1400 of them, that their moral right to health care coverage will survive this moment.”

    http://bishopsblog.dosp.org/2013/02/the-devil-is-in-the-details/

  26. acardnal says:

    Bishop Lynch is a problem.

    There was a time, I’m not sure this is still true, he did not permit Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in his diocese as of 2000.

    http://eraofpeace.tripod.com/expositionended.html

    http://wdtprs.com/blog/2012/07/action-item-remembrance-of-things-past/