Joan Frawley Desmond, is the Register’s senior editor. She is an award-winning journalist widely published in Catholic, ecumenical and secular media. A graduate of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies of Marriage and Family, she lives with her family in California..
While the U.S. bishops continue to "study" the 110-page final rule for an "accommodation" for religious employers that object to the HHS conraception mandate on moral grounds, the Catholic Health Association signaled its approval of the White House's deal.
On July 8, Sister Carol Keehan, the president and CEO of CHA issued a memorandum stating:
We are pleased that our members now have an accommodation that will not require them to contract, provide, pay or refer for contraceptive coverage.
We also recognize that this resolution has not been what some organizations, including the Bishops' Conference, asked for on behalf of a wider group. Our contribution to the process has been to work for the protection of religious organizations, especially our members. We recognize the broader issues will continue to be debated and litigated by others.
CHA provided an "overview" of the lengthy HHS final rule for its membership.
Today, an email exchange with Sister Mary Ann Walsh at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops confirmed that “The U.S. bishops are still studying the HHS final ruling. The USCCB did not contribute to the CHA analysis or the statement itself.”
Last week, in a July 3 statement, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, the USCCB president, outlined on-going concerns about three key issues:
A first concern with the definition of "religious employer," and the third concern with faithful business owners and other individuals, still have not been addressed at all.The second area of concern—the "accommodation" for religious charities, schools, hospitals, and other ministries of service—appears mostly the same, except for three relatively small changes that will require more time and analysis to evaluate.
CHA's statement acknolwedged that its assessment was narrowly focused on membership concerns, but its announcement could have far-reaching consequences.