Cardinal George of Chicago warns of “no Catholic hospitals in two years” if the mandate isn’t rescinded. He writes:
So far in American history, our government has respected the freedom of individual conscience and of institutional integrity for all the many religious groups that shape our society [...] The government has not compelled them to perform or pay for what their faith tells them is immoral. That’s what we’ve meant by freedom of religion. That’s what we had believed was protected by the U.S. Constitution. Maybe we were foolish to believe so.
What he foresees:
What will happen if the HHS regulations are not rescinded? A Catholic institution, so far as I can see right now, will have one of four choices: 1) secularize itself, breaking its connection to the Church, her moral and social teachings and the oversight of its ministry by the local bishop. This is a form of theft. It means the Church will not be permitted to have an institutional voice in public life. 2) Pay exorbitant annual fines to avoid paying for insurance policies that cover abortifacient drugs, artificial contraception and sterilization. This is not economically sustainable. 3) Sell the institution to a non-Catholic group or to a local government. 4) Close down.
Part of me really wonders if this was the goal all along, to force one of the largest providers of health care nationally out of business so that the federal government could swoop in and buy it all. Read the rest.
H/t: Hot Air headlines
UPDATE: Via Ed Morissey, more from Cardinal George:
Practically, we’re told that the majority of Catholics use artificial contraception. There are properly medical reasons, in some circumstances, for the use of contraceptive pills, as everyone knows. But even if contraceptives were used by a majority of couples only and exclusively to suppress a possible pregnancy, behavior doesn’t determine morality. If it can be shown that a majority of Catholic students cheat on their exams, it is still wrong to cheat on exams. Trimming morality to how we behave guts the Gospel call to conversion of life and rejection of sin.
Catholics may be giving up some luxuries for Lent, but the bishops aren’t giving up this fight. They seem ready to make this a weekly battle with the Obama administration, and willing to escalate it to the point of closing doors and stopping services, a move that will make the issue acute in many of the areas where Obama normally would draw his most fervent support.
The Bishops better fight. This isn’t just a battle. This is war.
UPDATE: From the comments, Just a Conservative Girl saw this coming weeks ago:
But I got to thinking, maybe that is the point. Maybe this is the whole reason that they are pushing this. Stay with me now. Say that many faith-based groups do decide to change the way they run their organizations. They will only administer help to people within their own faith in order to stay in compliance with the exemption. What happens to all the others who will no longer be getting the help that they give? They have to turn to the state. Especially if they are not people of faith.
It would be virtually impossible for the faith-based groups to know if the people they are helping are truly people of that faith. I wouldn’t put it past atheist activists to try to get services from a faith-based group and then publicize the fact that they were not truly just administering to the “faithful”. Many good people would lose jobs at Catholic University’s and hospitals. Many people in need of service would be turned away.