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BY Pat Archbold
Regrettably, if unsurprisingly, Sister Carol Keehan and the Catholic Health Association have thrown their lot in with the Administration over the HHS mandate rather than side with the Bishops.
All during the period in which the CHA feigned objection to the mandate, the White House website continued to cite the CHA support of the measure as proof it does not violate conscience rights.
As the Bishops have made clear, every variation of the rule (and they have really have not varied) impinges upon institutional and individual freedom by forcing them to cover contraception and abortofacients as part of any health insurance converge.
Well, you might ask, who cares what the CHA says? It is what the Bishops say that matters?
As Joan Frawley-Desmond points out in her coverage of the CHA endorsement, this endorsement has "unpredictable consequences for ongoing efforts to secure legal and legislative remedies to the Health and Human Services' mandate"
The White House's continual citing of the CHA reveals the strategy. They intend, in defense of the matter, to contend that the CHA is the competent authority to interpret Church teaching on the mandate. The CHA endorsement, which encompasses the large majority of Catholic health institutions, clearly shows that the Catholic Church is supportive of the mandate. Any remaining objection does not really represent the Church, they will argue.
The Bishops have tried to work with the CHA for a long time, to bring them in line, and to have them be more respectful and diligent in protecting Church teaching in health matters. They have failed. The CHA, in this crucial moment for religious freedom in this country, is on the other side. The Catholic Health Association is the enemy.
The Bishops must use all their power to push the enemy back. The Bishops must kill the CHA. First, the competent ecclesial authorities must remove permission for the CHA to use the word Catholic in their name. This must be done immediately. The CHA is not Catholic and they must not be allowed to use the name when they are in open opposition to the Bishops and Church teaching. This is most especially true with all the pending litigation against the mandate by Catholic institutions. The Bishops cannot allow the Church to seem divided on this question.
Further, each and every Bishop should urge (read threaten) Catholic Health institutions within their dioceses that continued association with the CHA calls into question their commitment to Catholic principles and their affiliation with the Church.
This may seem drastic but it is necessary. If we are to save truly Catholic healthcare in this country, we must amputate the rotting limbs immediately or risk losing the patient.