Should the Catholic Bishops be fighting HHS?


A recent article in American Magazine, entitled “Policy, Not Liberty” discusses the opposition of the Catholic Bishops to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) contraception the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The magazine is published by the Jesuits, a Catholic institution and the editors believe the bishops have overstepped their bounds and are interfering with policy. We disagree.

While we are not going to argue whether or not people have a “right” to healthcare or not, we will take issue on whether the USCCB should take a stand on religious freedom.
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The article mentions Pope Benedict’s encyclical letter, “Deus Caritas Est” in which the Pope writes that the church does not seek to “impose on those who do not share the faith ways of thinking and modes of conduct proper to the faith.” (28 a) The editors seem to be arguing that somehow it is the bishop’s who are imposing their religion onto the government when it is actually the opposite. The HHS is in fact imposing their religious beliefs, or lack thereof, on the employees of the religious institutions involved, that is the government’s belief that everyone should use contraception. At no time has the USCCB nor the Catholic Church tried to ban the use of contraception, they have only indicated that it is against their moral code. And for anyone to suggest otherwise is wrong.

Had the editors been paying attention when the read the Encyclical earlier in the same section (28 a) hey would have read this: “The State may not impose religion, yet it must guarantee religious freedom and harmony between the followers of different religions. For her part, the Church, as the social expression of Christian faith, has a proper independence and is structured on the basis of her faith as a community which the State must recognize. The two spheres are distinct, yet always interrelated.”

Even the Pope agrees that the Church must guarantee religious freedom. Religious freedom is not having the government dictate what kind of insurance coverage they must provide for their employees. To turn a phrase the left loves to use:

"Keep your hands of my religion."