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New York archdiocese already paying contraceptive benefits for some union employees

Catholic World News - May 28, 2013

A New York Times report has drawn attention to contraceptive coverage in the health-care benefits of some unionized employees in the New York archdiocese. But a Church spokesman has insisted that the archdiocese subsidizes the contraceptive benefits “under protest,” and only because archdiocesan officials cannot control the unions’ health-care programs.

The New York Times story focused on employees at the nursing homes and health clinics operated by the archdiocese. The health-care plan offered to union workers at these institutions includes coverage for contraception. The union president told the Times that the contraceptive coverage had not been a major issue in recent negotiations with the archdiocese.

The report was damaging to New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who—in his capacity as president of the US bishops’ conference—has led the fight against the mandatory contraceptive coverage in the new “Obamacare” federal health plan. Cardinal Dolan has repeatedly said that it would be a gross violation of religious freedom to compel Catholic institutions to pay into programs that provide contraceptive coverage.

Joseph Zwilling, the director of communications for the New York archdiocese, pointed to a crucial difference between the “Obamacare” plan and the current coverage for unionized workers in New York:

The Constitution and other provisions of federal law prohibit the government from imposing the mandate on the Archdiocese. A labor union is not subject to the same constraints as the federal government in this regard, and so the fact that 1199 [the union representing workers in archdiocesan nursing homes] requires these benefits as part of its plan does not excuse the government’s violation of the Archdiocese’s federal rights.

Zwilling noted that the union’s health-care policies were already established at the time when ArchCare, the archdiocesan health-care agency, took over the nursing homes. Thus, he said, the archdiocese “had no other option but to pay into the fund which administers the union members’ benefits ‘under protest’ to continue to offer insurance to its union workers and remain in the health care field in New York.”

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Show 8 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: djpeterson - May. 29, 2013 4:30 PM ET USA

    The Times article also reveals that the NY diocese is also funding "pregnancy termination" i. e. ABORTION. This is the tip of the iceberg. In fact, research shows that about 1/3 of U.S. citizens live in states where taxpayers pay for free abortions! Catholic leaders needs to broaden the fight beyond merely contraceptive coverage.

  • Posted by: Miss Cathy - May. 29, 2013 3:09 AM ET USA

    So making concessions on grave moral evils is ok if you're making them to remain in the health field?

  • Posted by: GymK - May. 28, 2013 8:28 PM ET USA

    I suppose we all shop at stores where union employees have contraceptive and even abortion "benefits." Are we supporting contraception/abortion? should we refuse social security and Medicare benefits because they also include contraception and abortion coverage?

  • Posted by: ZIP5DO@aol.com - May. 28, 2013 8:06 PM ET USA

    Knowing NY, this does not surprise. If Dolan was real he would reduce payment to fund which administers the union member benefits or shut down. There are always options. May not like them but there are options.

  • Posted by: jg23753479 - May. 28, 2013 8:06 PM ET USA

    While Contrary1995 may be right, it one more example of something that wastes the time of the faithful explaining an ironic situation involving the Church or one of its leaders. To the untrained ear (i.e. non-Catholic ear) this all sounds like special pleading and undermines further the authority of the Church in society.

  • Posted by: Frodo1945 - May. 28, 2013 7:46 PM ET USA

    "under protest" ??? Those words mean nothing. The New York archdiocese is a mess, IMHO. Catholic governor? Gay marriage? Not a good place to stand when you try to lead all the bishops in America.

  • Posted by: Defender - May. 28, 2013 3:36 PM ET USA

    Presumably these nursing homes and health clinics operated by the archdiocese are Catholic, so what's the problem? Since ArchCare took over things, kick out the union or make it clear that the archdiocese will not pay for these "services." It is ironic, isn't it, that Cardinal Dolan (also head of the USCCB) can't even keep his house in order. Between the pseudo-catholic politicians, "gay" churches, etc, and now this coming to light, the cardinal seems to be in too deep.

  • Posted by: Contrary1995 - May. 28, 2013 3:13 PM ET USA

    This is a non-story intended by the Times to cloud the issue for the benefit of the Obama Administration.

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