Dodging The Bigotry Bullet, U.S. News and World Report Hosts Sister Mary Ann Walsh

Yesterday, longtime US News & World Report columnist  Jamie Stiehm posted an anti-Catholic screed regarding the controversy stirred up by Justice Sotomayor’s stay protecting the Little Sisters of the Poor from the dictates of the HHS Mandate.

Today, in what I reckon is a move to not show favoritism towards Ms. Stiehm’s skewed viewpoint, they have given Sister Mary Ann Walsh, Director of Media Relations at the USCCB, a forum as well. They did so as a part of their Debate Club on the argument, “Do the Little Sisters of the Poor Have a Case Against Obamacare?”

Sister Mary Ann has the floor,

When it comes to public opinion, you can’t find a worse group to pick a fight with than the Little Sisters of the Poor. They’re an order of nuns who attend to the frail and elderly. With longstanding generosity to those in need, the Little Sisters hold moral sway.

Quality of life stands as their first concern, and so the Little Sisters run low-cost, top-flight nursing homes. People trust grandma and grandpa to their care. Those who pass to their eternal reward in these homes do so in the arms of loving nuns who have become family. People have seen the work of these nuns all across the United States and around the world. There is nothing with which to pick a fight.

Yet that is what the Department of Justice did in January when it opposed Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s New Year’s Eve decision to grant the nuns a temporary reprieve from having to pay crippling fines for refusing to sign what the Justice Department has described as a meaningless government form.

But if this self-certification form is so meaningless, why is the government fighting so hard to get the Sisters to sign it? That’s because it has plenty of meaning, as Houston-based Judge Lee Rosenthal pointed out in a case to block the mandate brought by East Texas Baptist University and Houston Baptist University.

“The act of self-certification does more than simply state the organization’s religious objection,” the judge said. The form also tells a third party that “it must provide the organization’s employees coverage that gives those employees free access” to the problematic devices and products, and that “it must notify the employees of that benefit.” He concluded that “the purpose and effect of the form is to accomplish what the organization finds religiously forbidden and protests.”

That’s the gist of the nuns’ argument, and if they were picketers (which they are not), their mantra would be “Lord Divine, we can’t sign.” The Little Sisters are letting conscience be their guide.

Read the rest.

So U.S. News dodges the bigotry bullet, by being fair and balanced, see? For the rest of the debate club, aside from Sister Mary Ann, on the “YES” side, they also host Edward Mechmann of the Archdiocise of New York, and Penny Nance (president and CEO of Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee). And Opposed? Law professor Leslie Griffen of UNLV, and Dana Singiser, VP of Public Policy for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Go check it out. You can even upvote (or downvote) the participants responses to the argument.

Debate Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

  • DellaVecchia

    In October 2011, as a prelude to the House investigation into charges that the Obama administration, in its selection of grant recipients, had been discriminating against Roman Catholic institutions, Sister Mary Ann weighed in on the bishops’ website:

    “It’s the ABC Rule, Anybody But Catholics. The program worked well on the ground, but not so well for distant administrators promoting the abortion and contraceptive agenda, who bristle at the fact that in accord with Church teaching, USCCB won’t facilitate taking innocent life, sterilization and artificial contraception.”

    HHS staffers told the *Washington Post* that HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was punishing the Church for refusing to dispense contraceptives and abortifacients to prostitutes and other victims of sex trafficking, by collaborating with Barack Obama, to pull a longstanding grant from the USCCB for work hat helps these victims.

    As the *Post* reported, HHS stepped in to override an independent review board and career staffers who had recommended that the bishops be funded again. Officials at HHS refused to sign documents connected to the grant, contending that the process was “unfair and politicized.”

    However, as the *Post* wrote:

    HHS policies spell out that career officials usually oversee grant competitions and select the winners, giving priority consideration to the review board’s judgment. The policies do not prohibit political appointees from getting involved, though current and former employees said it is unusual especially for high-level officials.”
    Sister Mary Ann called it correctly, as you will excuse my paraphrasing: IT IS AN ABOMINABLE CONSPIRACY.

    Then and now.

    My Aunt Alice was a Little Sister of the Poor.


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