WH to Dolan: We’re not listening but you should!

Timothy Cardinal Dolan of New York, who is president of the USCCB, brings an update on the HHS Mandate battle and he is being realistic and, it seems to me, trying to tell us all to gird our loins.

All links and emphases are mine:

The President invited us to “work out the wrinkles,” and we have been taking him seriously. Unfortunately, this seems to be going nowhere: the White House Press Secretary, for instance, informed the nation that the mandates are a fait accompli (and, embarrassingly for him, commented that we bishops have always opposed Health Care anyway, a charge that is simply scurrilous and insulting). The White House already notified Congress that the dreaded mandates are now published in the Federal Registry “without change.” The Secretary of HHS is widely quoted as saying, “Religious insurance companies don’t really design the plans they sell based on their own religious tenets,” which doesn’t bode well for a truly acceptable “accommodation.” And a recent meeting between staff of the bishops’ conference and the White House staff ended with the President’s people informing us that the broader concerns of religious freedom — that is, revisiting the straight-jacketing mandates, or broadening the maligned exemption—are all off the table. Instead, they advised the bishops’ conference that we should listen to the “enlightened” voices of accommodation, such as the recent hardly-surprising but terribly unfortunate editorial in America.

The White House seems to think we bishops are hopelessly out of touch with our people, and with those whom the White House now has nominated as official Catholic teachers.

So, I don’t know if we’ll get anywhere with the executive branch.

Congress offers more hope, with thoughtful elected officials proposing promising legislation to protect what should be so obvious: religious freedom. As is clear from the current debate in the senate, our opponents are marketing this as a “woman’s health issue.” Of course, it cannot be reduced to that. It’s about religious freedom. (By the way, the Church hardly needs to be lectured about health care for women. Thanks mostly to our Sisters, the Church is the largest private provider of health care for women and their babies in the country. Here in New York State, Fidelis, the Medicare/Medicaid insurance provider, owned by the Church, consistently receives top ratings for its quality of service to women and children.)

And the courts offer the most light. In the recent Hosanna-Tabor ruling, the Supreme Court unanimously and enthusiastically defended the right of a Church to define its own ministry and services, a dramatic rebuff to the administration, but one apparently unheeded by the White House. Thus, our bishops’ conference and many individual religious entities are working with some top-notch law firms who have told us they feel so strongly about this that they will represent us pro-bono.

So, we have to be realistic and prepare for tough times. Some, like America magazine, want us to cave-in and stop fighting, saying this is simply a policy issue; some want us to close everything down rather than comply (In an excellent article, Cardinal Francis George wrote that the administration apparently wants us to “give up for Lent” our schools, hospitals, and charitable ministries); some want us to engage in civil disobedience and be fined; some worry that we’ll have to face a decision between two ethically repugnant choices: subsidizing immoral services or no longer offering insurance coverage, a road none of us wants to travel.

Read it all. Someone asked me recently what I thought of the editorial in America magazine and I said I was sad about it, because there are so many Jesuits I admire greatly, but on this issue, they’re just wrong. I think they’re working through a very destructive conceit about their own intellectualism, and its leading them to a worldly and cynical alliance that will eventually — because this is about a government power-grab, not contraception, and they know it — end up marginalizing believers or creating a schismatic state church. I was disappointed that these exceedingly smart men were unable to see a simple truth, because it was “too” simple. I think sometimes this is the danger for very smart, well-educated folks. They miss the fact that sometimes, the truth is not complicated, at all.

The USCCB, by the way, is PhD heavy — our bishops are not bumpkins. But I suppose the bishops intellectual take on this issue, informed only by history, political science, philosophy and 2,000 years of reasoning is the wrong kind of smarts, or something. Not enlightened enough. The White House is (sadly, typically) as arrogant and disrespectful as ever.

UPDATE: Ed Morrissey does some numbers crunching regarding the impact of closing Catholic Hospitals:

Compared to their competition, Catholic hospitals take a leading role in providing less-profitable services to patients. They lead the sector in breast cancer screenings, nutrition programs, trauma, geriatric services, and social work. In most of these areas, other non-profits come close, but hospitals run by state and local governments fall significantly off the pace. Where patients have trouble paying for care, Catholic hospitals cover more of the costs. For instance, Catholic Health Services in Florida provides free care to families below 200 percent of federal poverty line, accepting Medicaid reimbursements as payment in full, and caps costs at 20 percent of household income for families that fall between 200 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty line.

Imagine the impact if these hospitals shut down, discounting the other 400-plus health centers and 1,500 specialized homes that the Catholic Church operates as part of its mission that would also disappear. Thanks to the economic models of these hospitals, no one will rush to buy them. One in six patients in the current system would have to vie for service in the remaining system, which would have to absorb almost $100 billion in costs each year to treat them. Over 120,000 beds would disappear from an already-stressed system.

The poor and working class families that get assistance from Catholic benefactors would end up having to pay more for their care than they do under the current system. Rural patients would have to travel farther for medical care, and services like social work and breast-cancer screenings would fall to the less-efficient government-run institutions. That would not only impact the poor and working class patients, but would create much longer wait times for everyone else in the system. Finally, over a half-million people employed by Catholic hospitals now would lose their jobs almost overnight, which would have a big impact on the economy as well as on health care.

And of course, we’re not just talking about hospitals.

Then again, if Catholic hospitals close, perhaps the government plans to acquire them, creating itself as the “be-all-and-end-all” — a false Christ, gathering all things to itself.

UPDATE II: Get Religion is watching the press get fed and digest the WH talking points

At Egregious Twaddle:

Yesterday’s New York Times, for example, brought this completely unsurprising editorial attempt to wedge the attack on Catholic conscience even deeper into the health care battlefield. “Women’s Health Care at Risk,” reads the headline over the earning that “a wave of mergers between Catholic and secular hospitals is threatening to deprive women of access to important reproductive services.” So now we’re not just making women sick by refusing to pay for free contraceptives for our employees; we’re withholding critical care. That these “important reproductive services”–”Catholic hospitals have refused to terminate pregnancies, provide contraceptive services, offer a standard treatment for ectopic pregnancies, or allow sterilization after caesarean sections,” all of which violate Catholic teaching on the sanctity of life–are in actual fact nonreproductive services is something nobody seems to be willing to discuss. (Is it just me?)

Read it all. Nope, it’s not just you, Joanne. The new narrative is that the church — which has never argued a ban on contraception — is trying to keep women from getting at it. It’s egregious, it’s false, and the promulgation of the lie is intensely cynical. But the press will promoted it, and people will buy it.

We Don’t Need No Stinking Bishops

Message received: Battle is its

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Well, Kenneth, you just have a hard life there!

    Nobody lives up to your standards.

    Sorry about that.

    But, really, the question here isn’t about restricting contraception; it’s about forcing others to pay for it. Shouldn’t insurance be reserved for actual illnesses? Fertility is not a disease, and pregnancy is a state that’s easily avoided—either by celibacy, or by birth control, which is both cheap and ubiquitous.

    I’m also against a business—any business, whether it’s run by a religious organization or not—being forced to provide services it doesn’t want to. I believe that’s unconstitutional. If a particular organization doesn’t want to pay for birth control for its employees, or patrons—-for whatever reason: religious scruples, lack of interest, lack of money, a desire to direct its funds towards other goals—why, then, it shouldn’t have to!

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Actually, I have to agree with Liz’s earlier comment.

    I believe this whole dog-and-pony show of womyns rights and nobody’s buying contraceptives for poor Georgetown students, boo-hooo, boo-hooo, and the pill being absolutely necessary for female health is just a ploy on the government’s part to get their hands on Catholic hospitals, and health services.

    I think the Catholic hospitals should stay open, and they should not pay for birth control, or sterilization. If anyone gets arrested for this, let the cops come and drag them off the premises, but they should not give in.

  • Mike R

    So where do the bishops turn now? They tried to “work” with the Administration but were sandbagged. Cardinal Dolan said he had hopes Congress would provide relief, but the Senate just voted tha amendment down. As an aside I wonder if he will have a conversation with Ms. Gillibrand? Seems like the options are dwindling. I believe we are getting closer and closer to acts of civil disobedience and simply not following the law. I believe it was Cardinal George who predicted that his immediate successors would be jailed or face even worse fates in this country in standing up to the state for their religious freedoms. That time may very well be upon us.

  • kenneth

    “……..The poor lil’ thing! We should just shut-up, and pay for her birth control!”…………
    OR, you could try a reasoned and impassioned argument against her position while still maintaining some baseline decency and sense of humanity. At one time not so long ago, the leading figures of the conservative movement in this country at least tried to hold themselves to a standard of personal conduct, of polish and intellectual rigor and mastery of oneself.
    They strove to be gentlemen, even though the fell short as we all do from time to time. To men of William F. Buckley or Barry Goldwater’s generation, the only men who would used the kind of language Limbaugh did toward a woman, in public, were considered gutter snipes and low-lifes. It would have been unthinkable for them to become folk heroes of the movement. Now the gutter snipes are fully in charge of the movement.
    They are, most of them, men and women with the character and temperament of prison gang leaders who claim to be the guardians of public morality while pursuing that charge with utterly amoral tactics. As a result, they have no real moral authority or power to persuade at all, and have nothing left to them but anger and self-righteous indignation.
    As more and more people turn away from this ugliness, they get even angrier and blame the liberal media and lash out at anyone within their reach, even each other. The movement is in a fatal self-destruct loop, and no one will miss it when it finally implodes. Maybe one day conservatism, and for that matter, liberalism, will be reborn as movements which actually aspire to some principles higher than victory at all costs.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Kenneth, they are trotting out lil’ miss Frunkle, or Farkle, or whatever the heck her name is, for this very reason—it’s the Little Nell thing; “How can you criticize this poor little girl? How can you be so ungenerous? So unchivalrous? Everyone, rush to the defense of poor Ms. Frunkle! Defend Bad people are saying mean things about her! And don’t you dare criticize her!”

    Please remember, she’s the one who brought the issue of her sex life out in public—not Limbaugh, nor all those other dreadful “Prison gang leader” types, you excoriate. (It’s the Sir Galahad, thing, Kenneth; it’s exactly what Pelosi, et al, are counting on); If she thinks it’s worthy to talk about in public, then the public can, and most definitely will, comment on it. She’s lost the right to play the delicate maiden, hiding behind a fan and wailing, “Oh, Mr. Limbaugh (or whoever), you cad, you!” Sorry, cupcake, you can’t be both Mary Pickford and Theda Bara at the same time.

    And anyone who tries the white knight routine—-”Stop insulting that innocent damsel, you vile talk show host, you!” just looks like an idiot. Sorry, they do.

    Look, you can either be a tough, liberated female, openly proclaiing the facts of your sex life and birth control, or you can be a demure little flower, appealing to male chivalry. But you can’t be both. Especially when you’re playing politics, and Ms. Frunkie is.

    As for reasoned and impassioned argument—well, to be honest, I haven’t heard any from her. The jist of her complaint seems to be that the Catholic college she freely chose to attend is—surprise, surprise, Catholic, and won’t pay for her birth control! The poor, oppressed thing! Excuse me, while I pluck out the world’s smallest nano-violin, and saw out “Hearts and Flowers” in sympathy!

    (Okay, okay, sarc. off.)

    She also gives a vastly inflated figure—$3,000.00—as to how much birth control she really needs. Neither birth control pills, nor condoms, are that expensive. She’s either lousy at math, or she’s having an unbelievable amount of sex! If she’s really having $3,000.00 worth of it, it’s a wonder she can still walk! (Yes, I know—-I’m very crude. William F. Buckley’s rolling in his grave. Sorry, Bill!)

    Also, condoms, and birth control pills can be supplied cheaply by clinics in her area. But—and here’s the heart of the matter—she doesn’t want them from these places. She wants her Catholic college to provide them. She wants them, therefore her college must simply violate its conscience, and hand them over to her.

    Given this attitude, all I can say is that she’s either a spoiled brat, who demands the rest of the world accomodate itself to her whims—or she’s a tool being used against the Catholic Church to force it to submit to the HHS ruling; a willing little ambassadoress of the culture of death. In which case, I honestly think she deserves to be called much worse things than what Limbaugh called her.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    As for the gentlemanliness, and the concept of not using bad language in the presence of ladies, and respecting women—well, all that got trashed in the 60′s, with the sexual revolution, and womens lib. It’s something of a bad joke, to appeal to chivalry now—in defense of a young woman who whines in public about how her Catholic college won’t pay for her birth control.

    I must say, it’s pretty funny watching the Left get its victorian bloomers in a twist over Limbaugh’s allegedly horrid comments about Ms. Fluke; where was all this chivalry, where were all these valiant defenders of womanhood, when Sarah Palin was being savaged? She was called things much worse than “Slut”. Posters called her vile names, even threatened to rape her; they insulted her children, even going so far as to attack her mentally handicapped son. But, of course, that was okay, because she was one of those narrow-minded conservatives, and, what’s more, came from Alaska!

    But using the “S” word about Ms. Fluke? Oh, good heavens, shame and scandal! I feel an attack of the vapors coming on! Quick, my smelling salts!

  • Robert F

    I guess we shouldn’t be amazed at how quickly the anti-Christian venom is spreading. And many people who call themselves Christian are among those spreading the venom. The fact is that many, if not most, people who call themselves Christian in this country are closet Hindus, believing in a metaphysic that supports multiple expressions of the divine and that does not privilege the Christian revelation. For a Christian, this can only be named as idolatry. And when the idols are unmasked, they show themselves to be self and the service of self. This service of self has always been the the Satanic option. And many have deluded themselves into thinking that service to the self is the highest religious duty.

  • John

    Preceding the moral argument is the “good government” argument that says: when politicians put themselves in charge of all aspects of people’s affairs, every part of life becomes politicized. And that leads directly to the profoundly undignified performances of Pelosi/Fluke/NOW/etc.

    Fluke is a law student and likely not capable of shame (he says as he blows dust of his J.D.), so it is left to others to point out how disordered her arguments are and how debasing they are to good government. At what cost to human dignity does she help her “side”?

    Phone calls of support aside, that poor little student who beclowned herself is cannon fodder to Obama. Yeah she volunteered for it; the rest of us are being drafted.

  • doc

    Ahhh, kenneth, as you know, Georgetown is not restricting contraception. Thank you for demonstrating the Leftist mindset which states that a refusal to publicly fund something is the same as banning it. You know, if Obama gets reelected, he’ll force Catholics to fund abortions next. This won’t stop as long as Democrats control the White House and it won’t get rolled back if they still control the Senate.

  • http://cinemacatechism.blogspot.com/ Bender

    Georgetown is not restricting contraception. Indeed. In fact, they are promoting it. And the biggest contraceptive that they are promoting and make part of their fundamental policy is the contraceptive on truth, especially the truth of the Catholic faith and the fundamental dignity of the human person. They have, by intentional policy, imposed a barrier between the students and the light of truth, sterilizing their minds and poisoning their consciences.

  • Clare Krishan

    Tried to post this to the [now closed] earlier comment thread *

    Georgetown has done stellar work informing the public for the common good on how to obtain affordable coverage under EXISTING law,
    http://ihcrp.georgetown.edu/ Georgetown University Health Policy Institute
    http://healthinsuranceinfo.net/ “Consumer Guides for Getting and Keeping Health Insurance- Choose Your State to Read Your Guide”
    where states are OBLIGATED to offer those who expire from COBRA coverage an alternative, private provider. We’ve been self-payers under the very useful info for five years now. What we used to put into the mortgage (paid off) now goes to the health insurance policy for hospital emergencies only. We cover all other expenses out of pocket, every visit, every prescription (supplied internationally of course, my life on asthma meds is more precious to God than that of the protectionist Pharma lobby’s commercial interests). PLEASE if you want to HELP the uninsured SHARE this very valuable authentically work of mercy CATHOLIC link, and SEND a donation to keep the site up-to-date. God bless you for your almsgiving at Lent and always!

    * on the televised ruffering (Dante’s medieval italian for p*imping, where our ‘ruffian’ is derived from, the first of the most severe treacheries punished in the infernal malebolge of sins against charis, requiring deeper more perverse malevolence than the sins against purity or humility punished before the Walls of Dis) by a current Georgetown undergraduate. Does dissing the school qualify for ex-matriculation at graduation? Calling its good name into disrepute? If not, I’d certainly be tempted to explore the legal loopholes needed to be closed to permit it in the future – how can one “graduate” ie arise at the top of a scala intellecta of an institution one has done everything in one’s power to undermine, to subvert the incline on the scala, and send it’s trajectory into subterranean realms? Read Dante on where those who betray their benefactors repose eternally … intestinal coelus conclusus or fractis ventris of frozen exclusion, not the eternal caela or hortus conclususm thefructus ventris of enkindled communion. Renaissance humanism and the beauty of poetry may help us yet!

  • Clare Krishan

    ditto Rhinestone Suderman – that’s why I elected to coin the term ruffering – its accurate (her testimony was not self-reverential, she was acting as public advocate of venal conduct in others, no she’s not actually the ‘goods’ being solicited herself, rather she plays the role of the pimp, supplying the solicitous with the ‘goods’) but not so loaded. Gotta love Dante to raise the level of debate!

  • Clare Krishan

    sorry self referential not reverential (reflexivity being a key concept in the moral system of the communio personarum theology of the body of Blessed JPII, take note). Its all about NATURAL law not primarilly about freedom of religion, but that’s a hard road to hew now, since all our Catholic Institutions of Higher Learning abandoned metaphysics 101, we can assume invincible ignorance for the most part, and pray pray pray)

  • Clare Krishan

    re: secular relevance of the ventris meme — Shakespeare intimated as much in his treatment of his Roman tragedy, Coriolanus (see Ralph Fiennes new version its on limited release nationwide) based on Plutarch’s telling of the Aesop fable of the body and the members, the archetypal political conflict played over aeons of history.

  • Clare Krishan

    Volumnia victrix, with her “over my dead body” will be our rallying cry!
    Shakespeare wrote this play shortly after the martyrdom of Anne Line (refer to my dad’s birthday, 2-27, in your saint’s calendars to familiarize yourself). Could she be having her sweet recompense and we our comeuppance? I’d like to think so!

    Courage ladies and gentlemen, we have a heavenly fan club rooting for us!

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    “Ruffering”—good term, Clare!

  • http://None Tom Fitzgerald

    There is a homily by a priest regarding Obama’s attack on our Church. It is on YouTube and already has over 250,000 hits. He is a priest from a city in Indiana. It is wonderful. Every Catholic website should link to it.

  • Dan C

    I think a different posture of respect ought to be granted the Jesuits.

    Jesuits have experienced deaths in the war against the Empire of the US. The murderers of these Jesuits live in Florida under US protection. The war against this Empire has not always been fought loyally by the Catholic right wing and its adherents actually have made excuses for justifying these Jesuit murders.

    When it came to disagreeing with the USCCB’s comments on war, and its comments on social justice, the right wing didn’t so much as use its intellectual ability to oppose these teachings but embraced the sly approach that the USCCB actually lacks a charism in making such pronouncements.

    Did the right wing’s apologias for those immoralities result in such dire ends as you predict for the Jesuits?

    Every battle in the age of the blogs goes nuclear very quickly. The right wing needs to argue better and recognize the US bishops have changed their positions recently, and need to clarify this. Why was it acceptable for many states to mandate this (and bishops accede to it) while now it is not (while the same bishops are not ardent opponents of the “mandate”).

    Temperance may not get 50+ blog comments, but it would more justly position the argument in the context of a longer battle as well identify barriers to full acceptance of what is now a new position for the many bishops.

    The future discourse as already framed promises the unproductive return to such toxic labels of orthodox vs. heterodox as shortcuts to rejecting reasonable discourse.