Washington D.C., Aug 1, 2011 / 15:45 pm
The U.S. bishops spoke out on August 1 against federal rules requiring nearly all new health plans, including those of most religious agencies, to cover all government-approved methods of contraception as well as surgical sterilization.
“Under the new rule our institutions would be free to act in accord with Catholic teaching on life and procreation only if they were to stop hiring and serving non-Catholics,” said Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, chairman of the U.S. bishops' pro-life committee.
“Although this new rule gives the agency the discretion to authorize a ‘religious’ exemption, it is so narrow as to exclude most Catholic social service agencies and healthcare providers,” the cardinal noted.
The guidelines, announced by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on August 1, offer the exemption only if a religious employer “has the inculcation of religious values as its purpose,” “primarily employs persons who share its religious tenets,” and “primarily serves persons who share its religious tenets.”