UPDATE: On Feb. 12, the White House Blog posted “What They Are Saying: Preventive Health Care and Religious Institutions,” which included positive statements from several Catholic organizations, including the Catholic Health Association and Catholic Charities USA.
“Catholic Charities USA welcomes the administration’s attempt to meet the concerns of the religious community, and we look forward to reviewing the final language. We are hopeful that this is a step in the right direction and are committed to continuing our work to ensure that our religious institutions will continue to be granted the freedom to remain faithful to our beliefs, while also being committed to providing access to quality health care for our 70,000 employees and their families across the country,” read the statement on the White House blog.
That’s the same statement posted on the Catholic Charities USA website on Feb. 11, the day after the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops rejected President Obama’s “accommodation” as lacking any substantive change.
But the Catholic Charities USA website does not mention that the present statement is an adjustment of its original response, which was characterized by the administration and news media as a kind of endorsement of President Obama’s “accommodation.”
Candy Hill, a spokeswoman for Catholic Charities USA, told the Register today, Feb. 13, that the organization had adjusted its official response and it had not “endorsed anything.”
“There was an adjustment with the release,” Hill acknowledged. “This is exactly what we told the White House. We wanted our statement on the website to be consistent with the statement we gave the White House” at the time of the president’s announcement.
“We have a statement on our website on the current position. We haven’t endorsed anything because we haven’t seen the final regulation,” she said.
“The statement speaks for itself. We are encouraged, but are awaiting further information. Will we say something further? I can’t say.”
Phil Lawler at the Catholic Culture website provides the original statement, and Lawler notes in bold the phrases that were subsequently altered to reflect a muted response.
“This compromise enables Catholic Charities USA to not only continue to provide access to quality health care to its 70,000 employees and families across the country of many different faiths and backgrounds, but also guarantees the continued delivery of vital services to the more than 10 million people living in need across the country.”