Friday, March 16, 2012

The latest from the editors of America

The editors of America magazine have revised and extended their remarks in consideration of the HHS mandate. In an editorial dated March 12th (appearing in their Newsletter dated March 26th), America's editors write:

Government’s Task

In our March 5 editorial “Policy, Not Liberty,” we commented on the objections of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to President Obama’s accommodation on the health insurance mandate. We identified, by way of example, “the needs of self-insured institutions” as an obvious problem needing correction. In the weeks since that editorial appeared, the bishops have raised anew serious issues that need attention. A key issue, which we regret we failed to identify in that editorial, is the narrowness of the underlying Department of Health and Human Services regulation maintaining a limited definition of religious institutions, a formula to which the bishops, as well as America in an earlier editorial (“Taking Liberties,” 2/13), objected.
This is not an issue for the United States alone. Archbishop [Silvano] Tomasi, representing the Holy See, observed when speaking to the U.N. Human Rights Council on March 1 on the issue of religious liberty worldwide: “The task of government is not to define religion...but to confer upon faith communities a juridical personality so they can function peacefully within a legal framework.” The church cannot function peacefully in the United States under the current regulatory framework. The existing regulation demands reworking.
There are conflicting reports about how seriously the two sides are engaged with one another at this time. We hope that in the weeks ahead, as the bishops and the administration attempt to resolve their differences over the H.H.S. mandate, the legal definition of religious institutions will take a top priority. We trust that, with good faith efforts, this potentially explosive issue will be defused, and we support the bishops in that effort. — March 12, 2012

I renew my gratitude to the editors for their leadership by example of civility in their engagement of the national discourse; I add praise for their earnest and forthrightness; I promise my continued prayerful best wishes for their work.



francesco1221 said...

The conflict seems to be deepening with yesterday's announcement about what universities run by religious institutions will have to provide... Even those who self-insure.

francesco1221 said...

The text added to the federal register on March 15 is inviting comment on the definition of religious employer... But only as it relates to the contraceptive mandate.

That could be interpreted as government limiting/qualifying its capacity to make such definitions. Or it could signal the opposite.

See page 16:

"The Departments underscore, as we did with respect to the definition of religious employer in the final regulations, that whatever definition of religious organization is adopted will not be applied with respect to any other provision of the PHS Act, ERISA, or the Code, nor is it intended to set a precedent for any other purpose. And, while the participants and beneficiaries covered under the health plans offered by a “religious employer” compared to those covered under the health plans offered by a “religious organization” will have differential access to contraceptive coverage, nothing in the final regulations or the forthcoming regulations is intended to differentiate among the religious merits, commitment, mission, or public or private standing of the organizations themselves."

Lazy Disciple said...

Dear Francesco1221,

Thanks very much for posting. I am sure this conflict will deepen, as it develops. The language you quote from p.16 of the FR (DT) strikes me as inoperative, as dicta, as essentially ineffective.

I think that is your point. Correct me if I am wrong.