Catholic World News

White House criticizes bishops, trumpets support from CHA, Catholic Charities

February 15, 2012

Insisting that it is “dangerous” and “wrong” for women not to have access to contraceptives free of charge, the White House press secretary asserted that the US bishops “never supported health reform to begin with”--prompting a rebuttal from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

During the February 13 White House press briefing, Press Secretary Jay Carney was asked a lengthy question:

On Friday, you seemed pretty satisfied that the contraception issue had been settled and you wanted to move on. But the bishops put out a statement saying that it still raises serious moral concerns, and said the President's plan "continues to involve needless government intrusion in the internal governance of religious institutions." As you know, there's also legislation in the Senate. One would allow any employer to raise a conscience objection to the contraceptive issue. Another one is broader -- even raise conscience objections to any aspect of the rule at all. Is this issue settled? Are you going to be able to move forward? The bishops have control of the pulpit, so to speak, and they have been talking against it.

Carney replied that

the organizations that will be most affected by this -- Catholic Charities and the Catholic Health Association -- have expressed their support for this policy, and we obviously appreciate that.

Now, we never set out with the assumption that everyone would be satisfied with this balanced approach, with this what we believe -- approach that ensures that women get -- all women, no matter where they work, get the preventive services they deserve and need, and that religious liberties are accommodated. And I would simply note with regard to the bishops that they never supported health care reform to begin with, of which this is an important element.

So then I would like to address the legislation you mentioned. And whether it’s Senator Rubio or Blunt, the issue here is giving employers the right to deny women -- to deny women -- access to preventive services, including contraception free of charge. So essentially, this bill or these bills would give any employer the right to deny the women who work for them contraceptive coverage. That's dangerous and it is wrong. And we oppose that.

In response to the assertion that the bishops “never supported health care reform to begin with,” Bishop Stephen Blaire, of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, replied, “That is not the case.”

“Since 1919, the United States Catholic bishops have supported decent health care for all and government and private action to advance this essential goal,” he added. “Long before the current battles, the Catholic Church was persistently and consistently advocating for this overdue national priority.”

“The USCCB opposed the final legislation because it failed this test [of protecting human life and conscience], a judgment sadly but clearly borne out by the failure of the law and the recent regulation to protect conscience and religious liberty,” he continued.

“I hope those who made or repeated this false statement will correct the record and report the bishops’ long and consistent record of support for health care which protects the life, dignity and consciences of all, especially the poor and vulnerable.”


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Show 8 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: imanxufan9901 - Feb. 16, 2012 6:55 AM ET USA

    Remember it was the so-called catholics who put obama in the White House!

  • Posted by: mwquacker4169 - Feb. 15, 2012 9:45 PM ET USA

    It is dangerous and wrong (and morally reprehensible, I might add) to make chemical contraceptives readily available which are classified as a Class 1 CARCINOGEN by the World Health Organization. It is dangerous and wrong and morally reprehensible to push these off on women as necessary to their "health".

  • Posted by: - Feb. 15, 2012 7:22 PM ET USA

    My big "Aha" taken from this release is what organizations it speaks of as supportive here - Catholic Charities and Catholic Health Association. That relationship needs some scrutiny by responsible bishops in the USCCB.

  • Posted by: wolfdavef3415 - Feb. 15, 2012 6:50 PM ET USA

    Here's the proof that Truth never hides. All the while insists on free access to healthcare for those in the first world who wish to escape the consequences of sex, the Pope's prayer intentions are for those in the 3rd world to have free access to water. The answer? Contraceptives in the 3rd world, of course. Because sex has too many consequences. /sarc

  • Posted by: normnuke - Feb. 15, 2012 12:39 PM ET USA

    Once again 'Catholic Charities' and CHA show their true colors. Rainbow quisling.

  • Posted by: Defender - Feb. 15, 2012 12:22 PM ET USA

    It's apparent that this administration is attempting to divide Catholics into gender and then pit them against each other. They really don't seem to "get it," do they?

  • Posted by: Mirabilis - Feb. 15, 2012 9:17 AM ET USA

    Perhaps Jay Carney could elaborate on exactly why every woman "deserves and needs" contraception. And further why, exactly, this should be the responsibility of the government. There is simply no reasonable justification for it.

  • Posted by: DrJazz - Feb. 15, 2012 7:52 AM ET USA

    No, sorry, those who made the false statement will NOT correct the record. It simply doesn't serve their political interests to tell the truth in this case. Hoping for that correction is foolish. The Bishops need to attack the statements, not respond with pleasantly worded defenses of their actions. Carney asserts that denying women FREE contraception is DANGEROUS and WRONG. His wording should be HAMMERED! So, it's DANGEROUS and IMMORAL to have to PAY for contraception? You've got to be kidding!