Culture & Religion
February Fri 08, 2013
From the USCCB website - February 7, 2013 HHS Proposal Falls Short In Meeting Church Concerns; Bishops Look Forward To Addressing Issues With Administration 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 Rulemaking from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) 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 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: the narrow understanding of a religious ministry; compelling church ministries to fund and facilitate services such as contraceptives, including abortion-inducing drugs, and sterilization that violate Catholic teaching; 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. "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' 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."
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