Archbishop Chaput takes cold look at Obamacare revisions

Parishes exempt, but not Catholic-run businesses
Archbishop Chaput

Archbishop Chaput

The following comes from a February 4 weekly column by Archbishop Chaput.

…. On Friday, February 1, the Obama administration issued for public comment a set of revised regulations governing the HHS “contraceptive mandate.”  At first glance, the new rules have struck some people as a modest improvement.  They appear to expand, in a limited way, the kind of religiously-affiliated entities that can claim exemption from providing insurance coverage for contraceptive and abortion-related services under the new Affordable Care Act.

White House apologists and supporters have welcomed the proposal.  The New York Times called it “a good compromise.”  Groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and NARAL Prochoice America have praised it.  And at least one Washington Post columnist implausibly called it a victory for America’s Catholic bishops.

The scholar Yuval Levin has stressed that the new HHS mandate proposal, “like the versions that have preceded it, betrays a complete lack of understanding of both religious liberty and religious conscience.”  In reality, despite the appearance of compromise, “the government has forced a needless and completely avoidable confrontation and has knowingly put many religious believers in an impossible situation.”

The trouble is, the new rules are very complex.  And they may actually make things worse.  In the words of Notre Dame Law Professor Gerard Bradley:

“Gauging the net effect of the new administration proposal [is] hazardous.  But one can say with confidence the following: (1) religious hospitals are, as before, not exempt ‘religious employers’; (2) religious charities are very likely not exempt either, unless they are run out of a church or are very tightly integrated with a church.  So, a parish or even a diocese’s Saint Vincent De Paul operations would probably be an exempt ‘religious employer,’ whereas Catholic Charities would not be; (3) the new proposal may (or may not) make it more likely that parish grade schools are exempt ‘religious employers.’  But Catholic high schools are a different matter.  Some might qualify as ‘religious employers.’  Most probably will not.

“It is certain that Catholic colleges and universities do not qualify as exempt ‘religious employers.’ The new proposal includes, however, a revised ‘accommodation’ for at least some of these institutions, as well as some hospitals and charities.  The proposal refines the administration’s earlier efforts to somehow insulate the colleges and universities from immoral complicity in contraception, mainly by shifting — at least nominally – the cost and administration of the immoral services to either the health insurance issuer (think Blue Cross) or to the plan administrator (for self-insured entities, such as Notre Dame).  This proposal adds some additional layering to the earlier attempts to insulate the schools, but nothing of decisive moral significance is included.”

The White House has made no concessions to the religious conscience claims of private businesses, and the whole spirit of the “compromise” is minimalist.

As a result, the latest White House “compromise” already has a wave of critics, including respected national religious liberty law firms like the Becket Fund and the Alliance Defending Freedom.  And many are far harsher than Professor Bradley in their analysis.

The scholar Yuval Levin has stressed that the new HHS mandate proposal, “like the versions that have preceded it, betrays a complete lack of understanding of both religious liberty and religious conscience.”  In reality, despite the appearance of compromise, “the government has forced a needless and completely avoidable confrontation and has knowingly put many religious believers in an impossible situation.”

One of the issues America’s bishops now face is how best to respond to an HHS mandate that remains unnecessary, coercive and gravely flawed.  In the weeks ahead the bishops of our country, myself included, will need both prudence and courage – the kind of courage that gives prudence spine and results in right action, whatever the cost.  Please pray that God guides our discussions.


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  1. Your Fellow Catholic says:

    In general, individuals and corporations are not entitled to ignore laws they disagree with, for whatever reason. Conscience is not a recognized exception in US law. So what is it that these individuals and corporations want? If you don’t like US law, leave the US! Or supply enough votes to overturn the laws in Congress and in the White House.

    Who get’s to ignore law? If your conscience compels you to ignore law, then be prepared to face the legal consequences.

    • Maryanne Leonard says:

      “If you don’t like US law, leave the US!” Oh my. “My country, right or wrong!” I believe that philosophy will be hard to sell on Judgment Day. Even innocent Germans living in Nazi Germany knew better than that, as do most people around the world.

    • YFC — the HHS mandates are evil, and they should be fought by anyone with a modicum of moral substance. You bypassed that inconvenient truth and accept the law as it is. That Obama attempted some sort of compromise ought to tell you the law is not fixed and that the final chapter is yet to be written. If the mandates remain as now written, Chrstian heads will inevitably roll, metaphorically speaking. From what you write, I can see you wielding the axe with pleasure.

      • Your Fellow Catholic says:

        Dan I’m sorry you believe that providing millions of uninsured Americans access to health care is immoral. I think it’s a pretty good start at making the country a more compassionate place.

        As to providing contraceptives etc. Just remember: No one is being forced to USE those services. It is still up to the individual to follow their conscience. For some, access to contraceptives is a life-saving alternative.

        • People are starting to find out what is really in Obamacare.
          The poor will be further from health care than before, and many middle class will be without insurance as well unless you can afford $20,000 for insurance for a family of 4 or 5.

          ( – In a final regulation issued Wednesday, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) assumed that under Obamacare the cheapest health insurance plan available in 2016 for a family will cost $20,000 for the year.

          Under Obamacare, Americans will be required to buy health insurance or pay a penalty to the IRS.

          “IRS: Cheapest Obamacare Plan Will Be $20,000 Per Family.”

          • Sounds agressive to me. But, Insurance for a family today is generally over $12,000 per year. So $20,000 down the road might be a reasonable assumption if not a reasonable amount.

        • YFC just look up the Coalition on Aging and Compassion in Dying before you think that there will now be EQUAL health care for all people. We have an aging population. How do you think the youngsters in our society will be able to pay for everyone’s insurance which will in turn pay for everyone’s health care needs?

          note: to be fair here is one place that you did not use the word EQUAL, and this is telling, you only stated that everyone will have access to “health care”. So maybe you already know that the new standard definition of “access to health care” for the elderly will be hospice.

        • Hey YFC, how compassionate is that small business will start laying people off to keep costs down? This “Obamacare” was about one thing — and that was more government control of our lives. How compassionate will be it when faceless bureaucrats start making decisions as to who and who will not get medical care? We as a people are losing our liberty day by day in the name of government. The good news for me is that the entire system will one day come crashing down under its own weight.

    • The executive branches are not legally required to enforce laws or executive orders, YFC … Does this bother you?

      • Employees of the executive branches can be fired for not following Executive Orders.
        They have cushy jobs with great pay and great benefits for the work done. – They will not find the same thing in the private sector.

    • YFC your excuse to obey the law was used in most totalitarian states, because the law is unjust. Yes Catholic hospitals should ignore the law, let the government shut us down, let them. YFC you have chosen the State over Christ and His Church.

    • Tom Byrne says:

      I’ll ignore it just like Martin Luther King Jr. ignored other unjust laws. Bring it on!

    • This so called “law”, just like Roe v Wade, is morally wrong. Even if some people follow like sheep, it will always be morally wrong. Evil is evil, period. The faithful will follow only God’s laws, not mans. The HHS mandate attacks and targets religious freedom — especially the Catholic Church. If we don’t like US law we will confront it, and change it. That’s why we live in this great country because we have freedom of speech and a right to assemble.

    • Abeca Christian says:

      To make the USA citizens that have been here since birth, that grew up with moral values, now have to leave because a homosexual says so, because the faithful have not bowed down to immorality, so they have to leave…..I think that since this country was rooted with Christian Values, maybe since those who oppose those values, should be the ones actually leaving, they now want to kick us out….lets take back USA and kick them out! We tolerated them and now they are the ones who want to kick us out! SHAME and so Un-American!

      • YFC since you have stated in another post that you believe in EQUALITY, would this mean that in order to support your view of EQUALITY, that certain US citizens, i.e. those who don’t agree with immoral laws, are not really people at all? Or, maybe you would prefer to support counting those of us who uphold moral values as being counted as 3/5ths of a person.

        I can’t help but think that you look forward to a modern day “trail of tears”. So much for equality, compassion and fairness.

    • Wm. Hamilton says:

      Should Martin Luther King Jr. have left the country for his civil disobedience? His willingness to go to jail for his beliefs was such a powerful witness that it led to the eventual overturning of unjust laws. And it would appear Archbishop Chaput would be willing to do likewise — “whatever the cost.” Imagine the effect on public opinion if the government began jailing Catholic bishops!

    • Juergensen says:

      So the Germans were not entitled to ignore Hitler’s laws?

      So Americans were not entitled to ignore the slavery laws?

      That’s what I thought.

    • YFC, politicians and judges are not entitled to ignore the Constitution which they have all sworn to uphold.

    • Conscience is not an exemption in US law, but unconstitutionality is such an exception. And, Obamacare’s provisions are a violation of constitutionally guaranteed freedom of religion (at least in my opinion). The case will be heard by the supreme court filed by Regents Law school (a plaintiff I don’t much care for. They were Michelle Bachman’s alma matar and think that the constitution should be made to conform with the Bible. However, on this issue, I think they are correct.)

    • Ahem! YFC, Archbishop Chaput is a Native American Tribal Indian. Are you implying that he should leave this land, too? If so, I suggest he take you by the ears and throw YOU out.

  2. Archbishop Chaput is the Cool Hand Luke of the U. S. Catholic Bishops. After coldly looking at the revised HHS regs; one could proclaim: “That’s my darling Chaput, grins like a baby, bites like an alligator.”

  3. Why does Obama really want all of us to pay for other people’s – abortions, abortafacient drugs, voluntary sterilzations, and contraception?
    What is his ultimate goal?

    • What is his ultimate goal? Answer: to turn us from a Constitutional Republic into some kind European collective based on secular humanism, otherwise complete control. That’s why he is on his gun grabbing campaign as we speak.

    • Your Fellow Catholic says:

      Alex: Obama’s ultimate goal is compassionate care for all the people of the US.

      • Except for the unborn people, of course.

      • DisturbedMary says:

        YFC: I hope compassionate care includes free gyms for the people.

      • Abeca Christian says:

        YFC that is a total lie! ARE YOU forgetting that the unborn are people too? How about the elderly? Ever heard of Euthanasia? That is what the this administration is advocating more!

        Compassionate care? What a lie! You want to live a lie, then do it under your own roof but do not mislead others lad! If you satisfy the flesh and leave out those with Christian values, then perhaps the only goal Obama has is the one that is away from God!

        Your man made HOPE is here because that is who people really worship….it is not God whom people wish to worship anymore but it is men.

        The saying goes: Who do you love more? Jesus or your homosexuality and with the gay agenda, we already know who they love more! It’s not Jesus that is for sure!

      • Then why not some of the drugs that are so expensive that people who need them can’t afford them? Why not diabetes drugs or statins or thyroid or beta blockers? Traditional methods of birth control are very inexpensive. There are some new ones that cost $100-$400 per month. Is it compassionate care for the drug companies? Now, abortions should go down with this policy. And that might be the ultimate goal from someone who does not see the evil in preventing conception.

      • Since when is murder and torture compassionate care?
        This site has been posted more than once: “Endowment for Human Development.”

        Check out 8 weeks and 2 days, and 9 weeks and 3 days.
        These unborn babies feel PAIN.

        Anonymous — if someone was dismembering or burning you with chemicals — would you think that was compassionate?

      • You can’t be serious!!

      • YFC, here is that word “compassion” again. Refer back to my Feb. 8th, 2013, 5:50pm post.

        I should also add that I agree with those who point out that your beloved “Obamadon’tcare” neither includes “compassion” for the unborn.

      • Except for children in target zones for missles.

    • DisturbedMary says:

      The ultimate goal is Margaret Sanger’s: Reduce the surface population. Nazis used forced sterilization for those deemed deficient or sub-human. Obama’s final solution is to get people to volunteer for sterilization! But you can only do that if you make it free. Like Obama phones. This is a million times better than free cheese! Free sterilization. Unfortunately, it costs a lot for something to be free. Thus we must all pay.

    • Obama’s goals are clearly stated in the proposal for the revisions to the HHS mandate. It states that the cost of having the insurance companies provide contraception, etc. directly to subscriber of plans without those so-called benefits is “neutral”. The cost is neutral because it will eliminate “birth costs”. Think population control. Further on in the document it clearly states that the government’s goals are improved health and “gender equality”. By sterilizing women either directly or through contraceptives, the government will take away our womanhood and the very reason that Archbishop Cordileone cites for women to be honored. Don’t be fooled by the wolf in sheep’s clothing.

      • Kenneth M. Fisher says:


        According to the latest news, a Demoncrat in Congress is now proposing drafting women, that is gender equality Demoncrat style.

        I knew that it would be coming once they illegally placed women into combat.

        God bless, yours in Their Hearts,
        Kenneth M. Fisher

  4. Larry from RI says:

    The White House has made no concessions to the religious conscience claims of private businesses, and the whole spirit of the “compromise” is minimalist.

    Tell King Obama to shove it!!!!!

  5. average catholic says:

    If all the US Bishops would take their lead from Archbishop Chaput we would be in better shape. In my opinion, the church needs to get up off her knees straighten her shoulders, hold her head up high and let everyone know we are Catholic and we are not going anywhere. Will we talk with you, yes. Will we be militant about our religion YES!

  6. Life Lady says:

    All this picking-apart, analyzing of something that at its base is baseless and unconstitutional to begin with. The entire HHS mandate, from beginning to end, is designed to divide opinion and people. It is aimed at our thinking, our experience, and the world we live in. It distracts us from our purpose, which is to love and serve God, period. We are to do that wholeheartedly, and arguing, stuttering, blogging, opining about what it says is keeping us from serving God, and loving Him, completely. That is the way of the world, the flesh and the devil. We must all say, in chorus so loud and strong that there is no doubt “NO, we reject it outright” and then let it go at that. The bishops do not need to take any more time with it, just REJECT it. Period. And then get on with administering the sacraments, feeding the poor, and taking care of their flocks, PERIOD.

    • LifeLady, it would be nice if life were so simple.
      Obama has huge fines locked into his EXECUTIVE ORDERS – which would eventually take (steal) property for payment.

      Obama is using the IRS as enforcers.

    • The bishops have already accepted it. For a long time. Nothing was said.

  7. When individuals venture into the public marketplace do they have a right not to obey the laws of that marketplace? Or do their individual rights trump the rights of the majority to set the laws of the marketplace?

    Ultimately, the individual can work with others to change the laws through proper means. If that is unacceptable, the individual needs to stay out of the marketplace.

    If certain individuals could make their own rules in the market place, certain other people could still not eat a meal in a so-called public restaurant in the market square.

    As I see it, so it is when the Church sponsors institutions open to all, not just Church members.

    • The USA is not so much the public marketplace anymore. This nation has become so efficient at providing food (sometimes better than paper mache’), housing (usually with power), water (sometimes drinkable), and so on for basic needs in the domestic sense, that there is no further marketplace except in war … in which the bartering is done by rulers instead of by common folk. This is why the government is so overwhelming and demanding … the world need of free marketplace has been surmounted. Without govt involvement in war projects, the citizens would have way much time on their hands and would end up doing all sorts of screwy things like being on vacation most of the time. Without big govt of great power there would be insufficient energy to run the infrastructure that produces the extreme efficiency of basic necessities. Big govt is in the here and now, not the tomorrow and whenever, other than various minor projects such as figuring out what to do down the road when there is no more petroleum anywhere. Oh I forgot the earth makes it in the center of itself … how could I forget? But then consider that the govt and not free market place then has to invent a drill of 4000 miles in length and heat resistant to tap that reserve oil. Aside from my cartoonish description, you cannot escape the point, which is that free markets cannot cope with anything beyond their limits. But take away the oil and the efficiency goes back to horse and buggy days and where almost everything returns to free market. That is when families will want children and old people to help out in order to produce their needs.

  8. Catholic Charities already complies with the mandate under California state law, which was used as a model for the original Federal mandate. Until the Church cleans up its own house, all this complaining is just rank hypocrisy.

    • Dave N – The Bishops of Diocese outside of CA, have nothing to do with supporting or not supporting CA law.
      Contact your own CA Diocese Bishop regarding CA laws that are contrary to Church teaching.
      No wonder CA Bishop Blaire and some other Bishops keep sticking their noses in Federal laws for their own political beliefs – because they do not want to do their own jobs within their own Diocese and their own State.
      When they take the logs out of their own eyes then they can make recommendation to the rest of the USA. They have done a lousy job to date.

  9. Anton L.Seidl says:

    Obamacare, when fully implemented, will be a living nightmare. It has nothing to do with healthcare or compassion; it is all about control. Nationalized Healthcare is the lynchpin of socialism. Enjoy it if you can!

    • It’s like Esau the hunter who ran out of game to hunt, and then turned to Jacob who had many flocks, and sold his birthright for a bowl of mush. Man has let the instinct to live long get away with him imagination, and is selling it for a fistful of dollars.

  10. What I’m trying to say is that man instinctively hunts for longer life, because he wants to be like God. His first attempt was to eat the apple, foolishly dreaming he could use natural means to obtain supernatural ends. Down the road of misery for many epic eons, man discovered that in order to gain eternal life, he had to eat the Bread of Life, which is supernatural. But how difficult it is to take a bite out of this divine Loaf! How much easier it is to eat that which we understand or fancy that we understand!

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