Bishops issue alert on HHS regulations
CHARLOTTE — As the Sept. 30 deadline for comments draws near, North Carolina's two bishops have issued an alert through Catholic Voice NC asking Catholics to oppose regulations that could become part of the new health care law.
The proposed regulations from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services set up new preventative health care coverage that all employers must cover specifically for women at no cost starting on Aug. 1, 2012. That coverage includes services such as mammograms, prenatal care and cervical cancer screenings, but it also mandates free contraception, sterilizations and drugs considered by the Church to be abortifacients – all of which are contrary to Catholic teaching.
Religious organizations have typically been exempt from regulations that conflict with their beliefs, but in this case, the contraception mandate is accompanied by a stricter definition of which religious employers may be exempt.
For a religious employer that does not want to offer such services, the regulation sets out a narrow exemption: An exempt religious employer is one that "(1) has the inculcation of religious values as its purpose; (2) primarily employs persons who share its religious tenets; (3) primarily serves persons who share its religious tenets; and (4) is a nonprofit organization" under specific sections of the Internal Revenue Code. The exact language of the exemption was announced Aug. 1 by HHS.
In a statement earlier this month, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said, "This poses an unprecedented threat to individual and institutional religious freedom." The USCCB has urged HSS to remove the contraception mandate and revise the religious exemption definition, bringing it more into line with what 28 states – including North Carolina – already use.
Terri Wilhelm, diocesan human resources director, said the Charlotte diocese – like all Catholic employers, including Catholic universities and schools, Catholic hospitals, and Catholic social ministries – may be forced to choose from three bad options: offer contraception coverage, limit its ministries to serving Catholics only, or stop offering insurance to its employees altogether.
Right now, North Carolina includes contraception coverage for employers, but the Charlotte and Raleigh dioceses are exempt as religious organizations.
Bishop Peter Jugis of Charlotte and Bishop Michael Burbidge of Raleigh issued an alert this week on the matter through Catholic Voice North Carolina, the non-partisan public policy Web site, www.CatholicVoiceNC.org. The alert was sent to 4,000 participants.
In the Diocese of Charlotte, bulletin inserts explaining the problem were also scheduled to be inserted into parish bulletins over the weekend of Sept. 24-25. The bulletin inserts were also to be distributed at the 2011 Eucharistic Congress in Charlotte.
— David Hains, Diocesan Director of Communication
Father Patrick Winslow: What can we learn from Pope Francis?It appears as if popes have something on their mind when first elected. One might call it a diagnosis and a proposed remedy for current ails. With Pope John Paul II, it was a message of hope to a world filled with fear. One can still hear him...
David Hains: Close that unhealthy health centerThe Gosnell abortion mill in Philadelphia and A Preferred Woman's Health Center in Charlotte have something in common: little regard for human life. It should come as no surprise that women are being mistreated in these facilities since...
Peggy Bowes: Honor thy mother: Devotions to Mary"We never give more honor to Jesus than when we honor His Mother, and we honor her simply and solely to honor Him all the more perfectly. We go to her only as a way leading to the goal we seek – Jesus, her Son." — St. Louis de Montfort,...
Father Shawn O'Neal: In this debate, remember Church teaching on human rightsAs a means to develop a comprehensive plan to reform our nation's current immigration system, a group of senators has introduced legislation formally called the "Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013."...
Father Matthew Buettner: Radical ChristianityRecently, the Boston Marathon came to an abrupt end when two bombs exploded near the finish line. Three young people died in the explosion, including an 8-year-old boy who received his first Holy Communion just 11 months ago. Along with these...
The Poor Clares: Joy and sacrificeSt. Paul was a man passionate with zeal and consumed by love for God and desire for the salvation of souls. His actions and words were geared toward one purpose: the claiming of souls from the dominion of the devil, and the deceit used by him...
Brian Williams:The honest 411 on Vatican III recently had the opportunity to take a class about the Second Vatican Council offered through a diocesan adult education program. While much was covered within a relatively short span of four classes, one subject occupied much of our time...
LETTERS FROM OUR READERS
Vatican II called for post-conciliar liturgical adaptationsThe April 26 Catholic News Herald commentary entitled "The Honest 411 on Vatican II" discussed a participant's experience at an adult education series in the diocese. The course, "The 411 on...
Warrior saints are found throughout historyRegarding the April 26 letter criticizing St. Nicholas of Flue, I am disgusted that an American would insinuate that a soldier who distinguishes himself or herself in combat is not following...
Who would be worthy?In a letter in the April 26 Catholic News Herald, St. Nicholas of Flue was referred to as someone who "did not follow those teachings" of Christ because he defended the faith with his sword and...
MOST POPULAR STORIES
FROM THE PASTORS
Read and listen to homilies posted regularly by pastors at parishes within the Diocese of Charlotte:
- Fr. Frank Cancro at Queen of the Apostles
- Fr. Patrick Earl at St. Peter in Charlotte
- Fr. John Eckert at St. John the Baptist in Tryon
- Fr. Timothy Reid at St. Ann in Charlotte
- Fr. Benjamin Roberts at Our Lady of Lourdes in Monroe
- Fr. Patrick Winslow at St. Thomas Aquinas in Charlotte
- Watch full Masses live and on demand, listen to homilies and reflections from Sacred Heart Church in Salisbury
- Listen to homilies from St. William Catholic Church in Murphy