(NY) Archdiocese Pays for Health Plan That Covers Birth Control (and abortions)

From the NY Times: As the nation’s leading Roman Catholic bishop, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York has been spearheading the fight against a provision of the new health care law that requires employers, including some that are religiously affiliated, to cover birth control in employee health plans.

But even as Cardinal Dolan insists that requiring some religiously affiliated employers to pay for contraception services would be an unprecedented, and intolerable, government intrusion on religious liberty, the archdiocese he heads has quietly been paying for such coverage, albeit reluctantly and indirectly, for thousands of its unionized employees for over a decade.

The Archdiocese of New York has previously acknowledged that some local Catholic institutions offer health insurance plans that include contraceptive drugs to comply with state law; now, it is also acknowledging that the archdiocese’s own money is used to pay for a union health plan that covers contraception and even abortion for workers at its affiliated nursing homes and clinics.

Now, more than ever, we need to call to mind the words of [Archbishop Charles Chaput]("http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/2766094/posts"):

[INDENT][INDENT] We make a very serious mistake if we rely on media like the New York Times**, Newsweek, CNN, or MSNBC for reliable news about religion. These news media simply don’t provide trustworthy information about religious faith—and sometimes they *can’t *provide it, either because of limited resources or because of their own editorial prejudices. These are secular operations focused on making a profit. They have very little sympathy for the Catholic faith, and quite a lot of aggressive skepticism toward any religious community that claims to preach and teach God’s truth.
[/INDENT] Things of the Church reported in the secular media need to be viewed with the most jaundiced eye.
With that jaundiced eye, I recognize that there may be more to this story. The *Times *quotes His Eminence’s spokesperson, Mr. Zwilling, stating that the coverage is made “under protest.” I don’t know what kind of “protest” would cover paying for abortions.

In Evangelium Vitae, Pope John Paul II stated:

In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to “take part in a propaganda campaign in favour of such a law, or vote for it”
There is no “protest” that can have any liceity here…outside of the “protest” of ceasing to fund abortions or abortifacients. Period. None. There is no work of “social justice”, no work of “catechesis”, nothing that can be so blasted important as to allow direct participation (and…ethically…direct material cooperation) in such an evil.

In other words, the Archdiocese goes to SEIU and says “this stops today. If this doesn’t stop today, we are closing up shop and you will all be out of jobs.”

Having said that…it is likely that the Times either got it wrong (intentionally) or that there is a WHOLE lot more to the story than was reported. We are talking about the Times here.

If the article is correct, why is the Archdiocese allowing money to be spent on a union plan that covers contraception and abortion? Which Catholic institutions are offering health insurance that provide contraceptive drugs? I hope the Archdiocese of New York provides some clarification.

Is it possible that the plan that these Catholic institutions have that covers birth control is like the plan University of Notre Dame has, that cover oral contraception not for preventing pregnancy but for ‘correction of existing pathologies of the reproductive system’ and a letter needs to be provided from a physician regarding the medical need for oral contraception.

National Women’s center has created a list of ‘sampling of Catholic-affiliated institutions that provide contraception coverage’


Legitimately, they could say “we didn’t know.” That would be an issue of a lack of management and, well, bishops are pastors, not CEOs. But not after today.

I hope that Mark is correct and that this is poor reporting by the NY Times. Even if it is, the appearance of scandal in this situation hurts the Catholic cause a great deal. Regardless of the veracity here, this is why it is so important to not take nuanced positions on this in our implementation of Catholic moral and social doctrine. Our actions need to be clear witnesses to what we believe. Splitting hairs on our implementation, only make us look like hypocrites.

:eek: :frowning: I pray that the title in this NY Times article is a mistake of some kind…

I am probably having a bad dream…:o



Statement of Joseph Zwilling in Response to New York Times Story



Joseph Zwilling, Director of Communications for the Archdiocese of New York, released the following statement today, May 27, 2013.

"Today’s New York Times story, “Archdiocese Pays for Health Plan That Covers Birth Control,” incorrectly equates the health care benefits of the members of Union 1199 – including those 1199 employees at Catholic facilities – with the Health and Human Services mandate that improperly attempts to define the Church’s religious ministry and could force religious employers to violate their conscience. 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 requires these benefits as part of its plan does not excuse the government’s violation of the Archdiocese’s federal rights.

What the 1199 health plan and the HHS mandate share is that the Archdiocese has objected to the dilemma of choosing between providing health care to employees or violating its sincere religious beliefs in both instances. ArchCare did not exist at the time the contract with 1199 was finalized. When ArchCare was formed, it inherited this situation and objected to these services being included in the 1199 health plan. However, ArchCare 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. Similarly, the Archdiocese has attempted to negotiate with the Administration, advocated for a change in legislation in the Congress, and filed a lawsuit last May objecting to the HHS mandate. In all cases where the health insurance benefit plan is under the control of the Archdiocese, including for all non-union ArchCare employees, contraceptive care services are not provided."

Thank you _Abyssinia for the clarification.

Basically the NY Archdiocese is getting it from all sides. Secular forces are trying to force them to participate in the culture of death by making it difficult to provide health coverage to its various employees, because to do so they have to start violating their conscience, first in small ways, then in larger and larger ones. And on the other hand we have all kinds of Catholic and “Catholic” organizations inspecting every move the archdiocese makes with a microscope looking for a scandal.

Overall, this looks to me like the enemy trying to find a way of forcing the Catholic church out of health care, so that a new sort of pro-abortion/pro-euthanasia state health care can fill the void. I hope all Catholics who really care wake up and see how important it is that we do our best to preserve our freedom of religion and freedom of conscience! Otherwise we will effectively lose some of our ability to participate in the common square, such as in the health care field.

Archbishop Dolan is a good man doing his best in an unbelievably difficult job - God bless him!

Wait, that clarified things? LOL

Granted, maybe it’s me (and I’m just mistrusting and don’t have the intellectual prowess that other posters on this website have), but exactly how did that clarify things?

Sorry, but I really don’t see the dilemma here. Evangelium Vitae is pretty cut and dry on this point.

I’m sure that some will try to spin this as if they are doing it under duress or that Cardinal Dolan inherited this from someone else, but none of that changes the fact of the matter. Catholics, through the Archdiocese of New York, are directly playing for insurance plans which cover abortion.

Why does ArchCare have no other option but to pay into the fund for union member benefits?

Cardinal Dolan, Forced to Provide Contraceptive Coverage, Sins Not

Ave Maria Radio
by Kathy Schiffer

Negligence. Ignorance. Inertia.

These are some of the reasons why Catholic dioceses might offer employees’ health insurance plans which include coverage for contraception which violates Church teaching, according to Dr. Janet Smith.

Dr. Smith, who holds the Father Michael J. McGivney Chair of Life Ethics at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, was Al Kresta’’s guest on “Kresta in the Afternoon” May 28. She was responding to a New York Times article which reported that Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York, is providing contraception coverage to his own employees, while campaigning against such coverage on the national level.

Is the Archdiocese of New York, as the article implies, being disingenuous or less than transparent by providing contraceptive coverage while opposing the HHS Mandate? No, explained Smith.

For one thing, state law in New York mandated that employers provide the coverage; and many U.S. bishops have assumed control of dioceses in which longstanding insurance policies include birth control and abortion coverage.

Secondly, some in the Church during the years following the Second Vatican Council may have expected that canon law on the subject of contraception would eventually change; hence insurance policies which anticipated that change by offering contraceptive care may not have raised concern at the time.

A third explanation which Smith cited is that Cardinal Dolan’’s and the USCCB’s resistance to the HHS Mandate has caused some to review their existing health care policies. As a result, many Catholic dioceses may only recently have “discovered” that the standard group insurance package which they purchased for their employees includes coverage for contraceptive services.

And Cardinal Dolan may simply be directing his energies where he feels they can have the most impact. As head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Dolan has decided to fight the HHS Mandate on the national level. If he wins at that level, it will be easier to win at the state level, not only in New York but around the country.

In the Archdiocese of New York, the late Cardinal John J. O’’Connor did, in fact, resist the state requirement that all employers provide insurance which included contraceptive services. After efforts in the early ‘90s to eliminate birth control coverage from the Archdiocese’’s medical plan, he eventually decided that there was no other option, if the Catholic Church was to continue to provide health care to its union-affiliated employees in the city of New York.

Not all the staff employed by the Archdiocese of New York currently have contraceptive coverage. However, workers in the Catholic Health Care System, also known as ArchCare, do receive coverage for contraception and abortions because they are members of SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, a healthcare workers’ union. ArchCare belongs to the League of Voluntary Hospitals and Homes; that organization negotiates a joint labor contract with the union.

Of the 3,000 unionized full-time workers in ArchCare, it is not known how many have chosen to avail themselves of the contraception benefit.

One last question raised by Al Kresta concerned the issue of “intrinsic evil”. Is the Church cooperating with evil if it affiliates with hospitals whose health care plan for unionized employees includes contraceptive coverage?

Dr. Smith laughed, noting that God gave us everything we have, even while knowing that some humans would do some terrible things: God provided Adam and Eve with the tree and the apple, and He gave them the possibility of eating the apple from the tree. God was not, however, complicit in their sin. Similarly, if a thief puts a gun to your head and demands that you drive him to the airport, you are under duress and are not guilty of material cooperation for driving him. In the same way the Catholic Church, required to include birth control and abortion in their insurance coverage, is not culpable if the insured then utilizes that coverage.[SIGN][/SIGN]


And I know this isn’t the crux of the issue, but did I understand correctly…did that woman say contraception related to “canon law”?

IF this is true, shame on the archdiocese. Will NO ONE stand up against this demonic administration? :blush: Rob

It sounded like they got into a contract with the union and then the union changed the health plan.

What does the Obama Administration have to do with what was reported above? This has been in effect since the 1990s.

Here is Janet Smith’s position on the topic:

“Here I am going to argue that NFB Catholic employers and Catholic individuals as well have a responsibility to give reasonable resistance to the mandate as a violation of religious liberty, both before and after the mandate goes into effect. Nonetheless, I am also going to argue that if required by law, Catholic employers and Catholic individuals may morally pay for health care plans that pay for AID-S-C. Let me take up the second point first.”
– from her article at CatholicVote.org

By AID-S-C, she means: " abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception".

I agree that paying for health insurance is material cooperation, not formal cooperation, and therefore can be justified in some circumstances.

This situation is similar to that of Catholics who live in nations where the government supplies health care, including abortions, direct sterilization, and contraception, using taxpayer money. The Church does not forbid Catholics from paying taxes in that situation, despite the immoral use of some of the money.

I do not agree with Dr. Smith for the reason that there is not a legal requirement to provide health insurance for employees. Insurance is a “benefit.” Even once the mandate goes into effect under the ACA, there is still not a legal requirement to provide insurance (the employer has a choice to pay the fine (I mean tax) as an alternative).

I agree with Mark. Taxpayers do not have a choice on whether to pay their taxes.

Whenever we act, we must weigh the good and bad consequences of our actions. Declining to give employees health insurance means that the employees will suffer when ill or injured and have difficulty obtaining treatment OR they will have to buy health insurance themselves, paying the same money into the same system (that includes abortifacients, sterilization, and contraceptives). So the bad consequence that money goes into a health insurance/care system that includes grave evil is not changed by declining to give employees insurance.

JP2’s address to the Roman Rota: “For grave and proportionate motives they may therefore act in accord with the traditional principles of material cooperation.”

The principle of material cooperation permits someone to choose an act that is not in itself evil (paying for health insurance), when the good consequences equal or outweigh (i.e. are proportionate to) the bad consequences.

Also, I find it hard to believe that the many persons expressing disagreement with Cardinal Dolan’s decision themselves have never paid for health insurance which includes the availability of contraception, abortifacients, and direct sterilization. Where are you getting your health insurance, now that the law requires these gravely immoral things to be included?

Cardinal Dolan has not misunderstood the Church’s teaching on material cooperation. He is applying that teaching correctly in his decision to pay for health insurance.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.