Catholic Health Ass. reverses position?

Someone just sent me a copy of the CHA’s letter to the Health and Human Services Department (HHS) of The First Gay President’s administration.

It seems that Sr Carol “GIVE BACK THAT PEN” Keehan, the CHA head and Pres. Obama’s – formerly, at least -tame nun, may be on a reverse march of sorts. Maybe she is evolving.

I am still absorbing the letter itself, but here is a reliable source on the story.

From Life News with my emphases and comments:

Catholic Health Association reverses; now opposes HHS mandate

CHA noted that it was changing its initial position welcoming the White House’s “accommodation” to religious groups in February

FRI JUN 15, 2012 17:59 EST
Catholic Health Association reverses; now opposes HHS mandate

CHA noted that it was changing its initial position welcoming the White House’s “accommodation” to religious groups in February


WASHINGTON, June 15, 2012 ( – In a reversal that deals a significant blow to the HHS contraception mandate, the major Catholic hospital association that once provided crucial political steam [rather, political cover for catholic pro-abortion dems!!] for President Obama’s health care legislation has now backed off supporting the mandate, saying that the president’s “accommodation” of religious groups is inadequate. [The image of rats scrabbling down the cables of a burning ship just popped into my head.]

The Catholic Health Association (CHA) on Friday issued a letter to an official with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services under the Health and Human Services (HHS) Department, stating that the government’s proposed rule forcing religious employers to provide birth control insurance to employees left them “deeply concerned.”

CHA noted that it was changing its initial position welcoming the White House’s “accommodation” to religious groups in February, whereby President Obama claimed insurance companies would offer the birth control for free, rather than having religious institutions directly pay for it.

“While this new development seemed at the time to be a good first step [uh huh], our examination and study of the proposal as outlined then and in the ANPRM has not relieved our initial concerns,” wrote CHA president Sr. Carol Keehan and two members of the board.

“Accordingly, for the reasons set forth below, we continue to believe that it is imperative for the Administration to abandon the narrow definition of ‘religious employer’ and instead use an expanded definition to exempt from the contraceptive mandate not only churches, but also Catholic hospitals, health care organizations and other ministries of the Church.

If the exemption is not expanded, they said, then the administration must pay directly for such coverage.

CHA was an early supporter of the federal health care legislation, pledging to support the administration’s proposal as early as July 2009. The group continued to support the measure even as Catholic bishops issued strong warnings over the bill’s potential to expand abortion, leading then-USCCB president Cardinal Francis George to chastise CHA as causing “confusion and a wound to Catholic unity” on the issue.

After the insurance mandate was announced last August, CHA pushed unsuccessfully for a compromise before stating opposition to the rule. However, the group’s position quickly reversed after the February “accommodation”: CHA almost immediately stated its renewed support even as U.S. bishops moved from caution to condemnation.

According to one calculation, if the mandate is not reversed or modified, it has the potential to shutter the 12.6 percent of American hospitals that are Catholic – an option Cardinal George in February emphasized as not far-fetched.

George had urged people to buy a copy of the Archdiocesan directory “as a souvenir” and to look at a page containing a list of Catholic hospitals and health care institutions. “Two Lents from now, unless something changes, that page will be blank,” he said.

Better late than never? Too little too late? Hey, that’s great!

What think you?

I think it is a damned shame that they caused so much damage and scandal in the first place!

Qui cum canibus concumbunt cum pulicibus surgent.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Brick by Brick, Dogs and Fleas, Magisterium of Nuns, Our Catholic Identity, Religious Liberty, The Drill, The future and our choices and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. norancor says:

    Aprop. abbr. Fr.

  2. Supertradmum says:

    Better late then never, unless one thinks like a Donatist.

  3. Spaniard says:

    Really, it’s great they have come back to blunt OBEDIENCE. That at least is a good sign. May the “good signs” keep coming!!

  4. Facta Non Verba says:

    Cardinal George is providing good leadership, and the trend is positive. The lesson here is that if the wrong person and congress are in power, they will over-reach, justifying their actions with well-intentioned explanations. In such cases, it is important that we can count on the federal bench to stop such over-reaching. Of course, the POTUS appoints the federal bench for lifetime terms, so we need to make sure the person we elect president will appoint the kinds of judges that are strict constructionists.
    The words of Thomas Paine come to mind: “The duty of a patriot is to protect his country from its government.”

  5. AnnAsher says:

    Agree, damn shame …. Also though, good if BO ends up with zero catholic support not catholyc support.

  6. GeekLady says:

    It’s either Assn. or Assoc.

  7. acardnal says:

    @GeekLady: Fr. Z may/may have used “Ass.” purposely. ;-)

  8. BillyHW says:

    Why are they allowed to use the word Catholic?

  9. kjh says:

    I saw this in another commentary, and in this article as well – “If the exemption is not expanded, they said, then the administration must pay directly for such coverage.”

    This seems to indicate that they do not completely oppose the mandatory provision of these coverages – an expanded exemption is what is desired, but in place of that, having the government (which, of course, is ‘US’…) pay directly for it is acceptable.

    An interesting shift in direction, or maybe a better description, “slither” in a different direction.

  10. Annette says:

    Sr. Keehan and the CHA may have realized that the USCCB is serious and that there is a real possibility that Catholic hospitals may be either closed entirely or, more likely, stripped of their Catholic identity and sold to secular healthcare entities. Perhaps the meetings with the LCRW have shown the CHA that the Church is getting more serious about defending its brand. Human nature is such that few of us are immune to the lure of power and prestige. With no Catholic hospitals there is little need for a Catholic Health Association. One could argue that in not too distant future, faithful Catholic healthcare providers will avoid the specialties of obstetrics and gynecology as well as maternal-fetal health and neonatology because they cannot provide the full range of health care required by law, including prescribing artificial birth control (ABC), referring patients for assisted reproductive techniques (ART), or performing elective abortions. A logical next step would be to withhold specialty certification to physicians who oppose any legal medical procedure. For example, board certification to gerontologists who refused to participate in physician-assisted suicide. There has been a movement to deny Catholic medical schools accreditation for their obstetrics and gynecology residency programs unless their students are taught how to perform first and second-trimester abortions.
    So what does Catholic health care ultimately look like? It may consist of institutions run by Catholics for Catholics, accepting no Medicaid or Medicare patients, with limited services provided by non board-certified physicians with no registered nursing staff. It might resemble the institutions run by the Church prior to the advent of modern medicine: small group homes used to provide long-term care for a specific type of disabled patients, rehabilitation centers, or small hospices relying on the financial support of other faithful Catholics. With little or no regulated training of faithful Catholics in the medical and nursing fields, it is possible that there will no licensing of any type of healthcare facility deemed to be Catholic. After decades of attempting to apply Catholic practices to a secular and once more hostile society we are witnessing the beginning of the Church’s return to Christ’s original call to the faithful: feeding the hungry, welcoming the stranger, clothing the naked, and visiting the sick and imprisoned.

  11. I believe it was country singer Tanya Tucker who said it best twenty years ago:

  12. GeekLady says:

    @acardnal I preferred to give him the charitable benefit of the doubt.

  13. Cathy says:

    How about we refuse to comply and we refuse to shut our doors.

  14. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    To quote a wonderful text from English Sacred Music: “Nolo mortem peccatoris”. If the group appears to be sincere, surely we should put them in the rear guard, where they can nurse the wounded, and prepare our forces to withstand the next attack. However weakly, if they’re on the side of truth, they should be treated as such.


  15. Indulgentiam says:

    Sr. “give back the pen” did A good deal more then lay with the dogs. She actually made a pact with those pawns of, well you know who, and she is going to find that she has much bigger problems than fleas. I’m willing to bet that she has OSHA & the FDA on her doorstep within the week and right on their heels the IRS. I will be extremely shocked if the board does not quietly ask for her resignation just to alleviate the heat. Of course there is always the possibility that is playing along for now. Either way she can not be trusted. I pray that for the sake of her soul she turns in the pen and the pantsuit and heads for the nearest cloister before its too late.

  16. anilwang says:

    The timing seems co-incidental. I wonder if the chastisement of the LCWR has anything to do with this?

  17. Del says:

    Cathy says:
    16 June 2012 at 11:28 am
    How about we refuse to comply and we refuse to shut our doors.

    Some bishops have urged us to brace for full-on civil disobedience. Don’t comply, don’t close. Don’t pay the fines. Make them come with their guns and forcibly lock the doors of our hospitals, universities and soup kitchens. We need to be ready to empty our pockets for the legal defense of all those who are arrested for our freedom.

  18. Hidden One says:

    I’m not in the habit of whacking people who’ve just decided to support my position and I don’t plan to start.

  19. poorlady says:

    It is a good thing that they have reversed direction. It is a bigger shame that they practically “threw us under the bus”. It looks like something scared them straight–maybe the USCCB is putting up a good offensive now and they are thinking right. Anyhow, they created a lot of damage to the Catholic faith by agreeing to the sin in the first place. I hope this situation will continue to improve towards the election. We need to remember that it is by the grace of God and Our Lady’s prayers if (when) we get through this safely.

  20. Kathleen10 says:

    lol, Fr. Z. (I really did laugh out loud.)

    yes, better late than never, but it would be wonderful if the dog would learn to wag the tail and not the other way around! Perhaps in the future, it will surely be needed again.

  21. tcreek says:

    Sr. Carol wants to keep her job.

  22. pm125 says:

    Wouldn’t it be nice for the CHA and LCWR to produce letters to:
    – defuse the bomb of allowing desecration of the Catholic Church Magisterium and hierarchy to the point of letting the world think there is some war on women
    – apologize for and correct their prior support of abortion to the laity that was more than misled
    – defend their religious conscience to those with whom they colluded

  23. Marg says:

    Do you think the “MSM” will cover this story the way they covered the “betrayal” ? We already know the answer to that question.

  24. MisterH says:

    Blogger Jennifer Fulwiler has penned a thought provoking piece on the subject of women, sexuality, and contraception. Here is the link:

    Here is an excerpt:

    “…it is only the Catholic Church that is willing to tell women unpopular truths about human sexuality. Only the Catholic Church dares to remind us that the human sexual act always carries the potential to create new human beings, and that we’re setting ourselves and our future children up for disaster when we disregard this most fundamental of truths. It may not be convenient. It may not be what people want to be true. But it is true. And knowing the truth is always a prerequisite for freedom.

    And so I find it ironic when contraception is said to allow anyone to live “freely.” Secular culture assures women that they can go ahead and engage in the act that creates babies, even if they are not ready to be mothers. They are handed contraception, and told to forget all about the possibility of parenthood. Then, when the contraception fails, as it so often does, they find themselves feeling trapped, perceiving that their only escape is through the doors of an abortion facility. This, to me, does not look like freedom…”

    Fulwiler’s insights are particularly relevant given the recent news story from Reuters: “Women overestimate effectiveness of Pill, condoms.”

    Story here:

  25. MisterH says:

    Many people are puzzled by the Catholic Church’s teaching against contraception.

    But, the teaching makes a lot of sense.

    For those who wish to learn more about the Church’s teaching on contraception, an excellent commentary and further resource links can be found here:

  26. Phil Steinacker says:

    Well, according to the Cardinal Newman Society we shouldn’t be buying this necessarily as a good thing. Things are not necessarily as they apppear:

    “CHA says in today’s letter to HHS 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, CHA 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 CHA 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 CHA and the University of Notre Dame both recommended to HHS Secretary 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 (ERISA).”

    There’s a bit more, and it takes the sheen off any positive spin about CHA’s “reversal.” Phrases like “wolves in sheep’s clothing” and “Trojan horse” come to mind, even if not precisely appropriate.


  27. Papabile says:

    it’s telling that they ignore the issue of individual conscience exemptions.

  28. Kenneth Hall says:

    Papabile, good point. I was thinking the exact same thing. As for this:

    “If the exemption is not expanded, they said, then the administration must pay directly for such coverage.”

    Either the CHA representatives who wrote and approved the statement don’t understand the ultimate source of administration payment, or they are engaging in sophistry, in order to get the outcome that they think in their hearts is right while washing their hands of it (et tu, Pilate?)

  29. PostCatholic says:

    Catholic Health Ass. reverses position? Would that mean it’s now a breach delivery?

  30. mibethda says:

    While it is possible that the CHA and Sr. Keehan have experienced a Damascene moment upon the currently proposed HHS insurance mandate, there is another possibility which may reveal itself in the next few days. During the past couple of months, the Administration has seen polling data that indicates significant erosion in its support from several critical electoral segments. One of these has been its support among Catholic voters. The Administration has been actively attempting to shore up its support in these segments. It now appears to realize that it may have miscalculated as to the likelihood of an all-out fight on this issue with the hierarchy and various active lay groups in the Catholic Church – a fight which it cannot risk in an election year when the prospects of a close election seems imminent. In this context, Sr. Keehan’s proposals – which are more limited and rather more questionable than they first appear – may be intended to provide the Administration with an opportunity, in accepting them, to appear ‘reasonable’ ‘moderate’ and ‘accomodating’ and, thus, to defuse the current dangerous political situation. In the past, Sr. Keehan has shown a willingness and aptitude to work hand-in-glove with the current Administration. Perhaps, in a few days, we will see if, in making this proposal, she is simply being a stalking horse for the Administration which she has assisted so often in the past.

  31. DisturbedMary says:

    I don’t trust sister Keehan as far as you can throw a presidential pen. Whatever this looks like, in my opinion, it ain’t conversion. She is a sly and calculating woman. The times I’ve seen her on EWTN, she is committed to the Won way more than to Holy Father. We are being snookered.

  32. MikeM says:

    This has been really bothering me the past few days… applying the language of compromise to this issue is immoral. Contraception is immoral. People should not use it. Insurance companies should not provide it. The state should not subsidize it. If they do, it’s a sign of their own moral depravity. If they ask the Church to take part in it, it cannot and will not. Period.

Comments are closed.