Aligning with Catholic identity: An embrace or artful strategic communications and public relations?

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With the 2012 election year well underway, the Obama administration’s intransigence concerning healthcare entitlements as these impact religious institutions, in general, and Catholic hospitals and educational institutions, in particular, continues to boil on the backburner.

At issue are some of the regulations concerning the implementation of the 2009 Obamacare law issued by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, and scheduled to take effect on August 1, 2012.  Especially disconcerting for the U.S. Catholic Church is the particular regulation requiring new insurance plans for women to cover all contraceptives approved  by the Food and Drug Administration with no co-pays or other cost sharing.

While the regulation provides an exemption for some religious employers, it is not broad enough to cover Roman Catholic and some Protestant institutions.  And even though religious organizations can be exempted from the regulation, the organization’s purpose must be to inculcate religious values, it must primarily employ and serve people holding the  same religious beliefs, and be considered a nonprofit organization under provisions of the tax code that cover churches and religious orders.  Furthermore, the exemption applies only to employer-sponsored health coverage, not the individual plans that some colleges and universities offer to  students.

Commenting on this regulation last October 5, the Chair of the U.S.  Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, said:

The HHS’s “religious employer exemption” is so  extremely narrow that it protects almost no one.  Jesus himself, or the Good Samaritan of his famous parable, would not qualify  as “religious enough” for the exemption, since they insisted on helping people  who did not share their view of God.

The reason this issue continues to boil on the backburner during this election year is that the nation’s Catholic colleges and universities may have awakened from their sleepy “catholic” identity to protest that, as Catholic institutions of higher education, they would be required to offer health insurance that covers those contraceptives and abortofacients despite the fact that Church teaching is opposed to them.

In November, 2011, Belmont Abbey College filed a lawsuit, seeking an injunction to keep the federal government from implementing the regulation.

The President of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, Michael Galligan-Stierle, said: “Conscience is now moved to the margins and is no longer protected.”

And, in a  letter to HHS Secretary Sebelius, to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the University of Notre Dame’s President, Reverend John Jenkins, CSC, wrote:

It is an  impossible position.  This would compel Notre Dame to either pay for contraception and sterilization in violation of the church’s moral teaching, or to discontinue our employee and student health care plans in violation of the church’s social  teaching.

In contrast, the Executive Director of Americans United for Separation of  Church and State, Reverend Barry Lynn, believes a broader exemption is not only  unnecessary but also unconstitutional.  Lynn is of the opinion that since Christian and Catholic colleges and  universities accept federal money in the form of loans and grants, they should then be required to play by the government’s rules.  In an interview with Inside Higher Education, he said:

Denying contraceptive coverage to students because of religious belief isn’t  an issue of freedom of religion.  That seems wildly broad, painfully at  odds with the reality of good health care in America, and utterly unnecessary  under the Constitution.  What’s not sensible is declaring that every  belief you have needs to trump the generally applicable rules.


So, what has all of this to do with the 2012 elections?

The Motley Monk wouldn’t at all be surprised to discover that President Obama is waiting to see what his polling numbers look like come late Spring 2012.  If the President needs “the Catholic vote” (The Motley Monk disputes that such a monolith exists today), then the President’s minions at his Chicago election headquarters and White House policy operations office will figure out a way to “thread the needle.”

The outcome?

Some type of exemption that satisfies both pro-life and pro-abortion advocates.

Perhaps the good news is that at least some leaders of U.S. Catholic higher education are aligning themselves in public with Church teaching.  Or, might it be good strategic communications and public relations on their part, meaning that this is an artful way of seizing the argument and appealing to Catholic parents that the tuition they must pay for an undergraduate education at their institutions is worth the cost?

The Motley Monk thinks it likely that it’s a bit of both.


More to explorer

PopeWatch: Trolling

PopeWatch suspects the Pope is just trolling us now:   Vatican City, Feb 14, 2019 / 05:41 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis


  1. There is a CATHOLIC vote in the sense that many Catholics and other Christians Jews and Moslems are not fanatically yelling about the pre-born, but see it as Gift from God. Many are also seeing the growing connection between the various strands of the Seamless Garment and see that it has to be whole and intact, otherwise it unravels. You may recall how, decades ago, many Catholics were convinced and converted by the US Bishops pastoral on war, European believers were not in need of that conversion experience, they had seen WW1 and WW1 and were sitting duck targets in any war between the USSR and the USA and UK allies. They also saw very quickly how iraq 11 was a disaster before the USA and UK caught on.

  2. it is evident that that justice and peace stuff is nothing but political posturing.

    Aborion, contraception, eugenics, sterilzation mean nothing,

    They again will vote for Obama.

  3. I am not that pessimistic about that T. Shaw as I see the trends develop. The younger citizens in the USA are very strongly pro-unborn life. They have lost siblings, classmates. see the effect on female classmates who had abortions and do not need to be taught that conception is not a glob of tissue. they. They also see the job losses and the mortgage problem and ask why and have answers to that, and the abortion quesion they do not find in the popular media and propaganda from those in power.

  4. Catholic identity crisis really needs a warm embrace from leaders in Catholic education institutions more than the smattering of rhetoric and posturing (for wink nod tuitions).
    Couldn’t there be more word about trust in God’s Providence and evidence of adherence to the Gospel they stand for? Somehow, I think, people and potential students would be heartened by growth of understanding the strength found in sound Catholic identity.

  5. “Many are also seeing the growing connection between the various strands of the Seamless Garment and see that it has to be whole and intact, otherwise it unravels.”

    That analogy only works so far however. For example, if Republicans were seeking to end poverty by killing the poor, then it would be the same as abortion. But as the majority of American poor have TV’s, cars and their biggest dietary problem is obesity. Thus reductions in benefits may not actually constitute killing and, given current economic circumstances, may actually promote the common good.

    The Church also in its wisdom teaches that there can be just wars and even just executions. Such is its wisdom in recognizing that men are not angels and that there is great evil as well as great good in human hearts and others may need to be defended against such evil. Such can never be the case with abortion. Thus, as noted, the Seamless Garmet moral theory only works on a superficial level.

  6. Every time I see or hear that phrase “Seamless Garment”, I am truly nauseated to the point of vomit. There is no equivelency between the evils of abortion and homosexual filth that the left wing supports and lack of wealth redistribution. Social justice is never served by taking from those who produce and giving to those who refuse to produce. All that does is make those who don’t produce addicted to the teat of the public treasury. That doesn’t mean that individual cities and villages shouldn’t find the means to support the poor in their communities. But that isn’t the job of the Federal Government. The left (particularly left wing Catholycs) want to make it the job of government because they want a God other than Jesus. Like the Jews in the courtyard of Pontius Pilate, Caesar is their God.

    Europe used to have something to teach us that was worthwhile. Now all it has to teach us is the fallacy of social justice from the nanny state. Do we want justice? Then repent and be holy. Jesus told us to be perfect just as our Heavenly Father is perfect. And 2nd Chronicles 7:14 says prosperity comes after repentance, not before. No social justice without righteousness and holiness.

  7. It isn’t charity if you do it with other people’s money.

    All that justice and peace stuff is nothing but political posturing.

  8. If I were in charge of a Catholic hospital, university or diocese, i would not obey the regulation. The Federal Government has overstepped its bounds and compelling the Catholic Church to pay for contraception is against the First Amendment. Sebelius is a person that deserves words that I cannot post here. She is a perfect Obama lackey.

    I am beyond angry at so-called Catholic politicians who support the nauseating garbage of abortion, homosexual marriage and the rest of the left wing garbage that the Democrat Party has been shoving down our collective throats. Even the owner of my favorite football team, Dan Rooney of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who used to come to St. Mary of Mercy for daily Mass (I know, I saw him there almost every morning) sold out for Obama. Rooney knows of Obama’s support for abortion and he supported Obama for President anyway. Rooney got to be the Ambassador to Ireland, where his family originates.

    The USCCB is now spouting off about “migrants”, who are likely to be illegal immigrants that the USCCB wants to give amnesty. No way. The USCCB has never, in any meaningful way, blasted the Democrat Party for its abortion support. Back in the early 1980s, the USCCB had an opinion about nuclear war and drafted a pastoral letter about it. They were not fond of Reagan. JohnPpaul II knew better, but the USCCB didn’t want to listen to him much.

  9. The Seamless Garment image is just that, an imagedrawn from the Gospel account that the soldiers ddid not want to rip that precious piece of Jesus’ clothing apart. It cannot be used in any rational way to make priorities of the elements of LIFE, it is all part of a whole as given by God as gift. The NCCCB has been accused mercilessly of being pro-GOP for a long time re abortion. They were against Star Wars as waste, they agreed with RWR on opposing abortion as a matter of Catholic teaching which did not automatically make him “their” choice for POTUS. Their stand on immigration and dealing wth those who are here and have US-born children is crying out for a solution, so far no one has had the courage to deal with it. Tinkering around the edges with State law for a federal and complkicated issue is neither practical nor constitutional. The Church as an institution offers principles based on Natural law and the justice it requires, the basis of which is human life made in God’s Image. Applying those fairly and consistently is neither simple nor easy as hubris, political power, and greed and narrow-minded thinking, including racism, zenophobia and religious bias gets in the way

  10. Star Wars – the Strategic Defense Initiative – was instrumental in defeating the USSR. It bankrupted them, and as a defesne against the weapons of rogue states like North Korea and Iran, it hardly qualifies as waste. What a surprise. Defense itself is even opposed by the left wing liberals. Read the Strategy of Technology by Stefan T. Possony, Ph.D., Jerry E. Pournelle, Ph.D. and Col. Francis X. Kane, Ph.D. (USAF Ret.) here:

    I have to go to work and so can’t argue the point right now, nor do I even wish to. It’s flabergasting how left wingers can’t understand what really happened (or don’t want to). Thus does Europe slide to destruction, and unless Obama is kicked out, so too America.

  11. Paul: It bothers me that any ideas that are presented from the Catholic Christian humanist, Consistent Ethic of Life view are dismissed as “liberal” or in other people’s eyes as “conservative”, both words defined as “bad” and/or “extreme.” JP11’s moral forece, begun as a bishop in Poland, continued as Pope brought down the Soviet machinery, Ghandi, borrowing from Matthew 5, brought down the British Empire and MLK used it to break the back of the viciousness of Southern racism. JESUS made it quite clear, the Beatitudes are for LIFE not just for CHURCH and if they were practiced in Church more faithfylly it would not be so sinfully divided within and with Protestantism. Today’s reading for Mass is David killing Goliath, not because he wa a good shot with a stone and sling but because GOD was on David’s side. Korea’s nukes, Star Wars will stop them against S Korea? Iran against a quick strike on Israel or if they block the tankers going through? Rogues getting some Pakistani nukes RWR got in there by dubious means in the then-surrogate war against the USSR?

  12. Quick reply; the rules for war as laid down by St Augustine would preclude most wars- talk first; proportionate means; no evil for good to come from it. The CatechismCC was revised to very technically allow for the death penalty IF there was no non-lethal alternative 2266-2267 CCC. Same principle as for war. LIFE trumps all.

  13. The seemless garment of Jesus Christ is repentance and conversion, righteousness and holiness. As 2nd Chronicles 7:14 and Matthew 6:33 indicate, bellies won’t be fed without placing repentance and conversion, righteousness and holiness first.

    Boy, there is so much to de-bunk in the last comment. Ghandi and the British Empire – hah! Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan were defeated by overwhelming force of arms. People on the left, however, can’t tell the difference between the British Empire and the evil that was Nazism.

    Star Wars stop them against S. Korea? S. Korea is a free nation and hopefuilly they will join the US in SDI against N. Korea. It’s N. Korea with its culmination of left wing liberal social justice – called communism – that’s the problem. Read the Strategy of Technology written by experts, not by arm chair lavender coated liberals.

    As for social justice, as I pointed out elsewhere:

    When Jesus gave his speech about feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, caring for the sick, etc. in Matthew 25:31-46, his audience was the disciples, that is to say, the Body of Christ. We are called as part of our penance (if you will) to do good for others for the sake of the Kingdom of God. Every time we abdicate our responsibility and evade our accountability to do this our sacred duty onto nanny govt, we sacrifice on the alter of political expediency our citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven and our adoption as sons and daughters of the great King. It is NOT the job of govt to help the poor. That’s OUR job as Christians.

    That being said, let’s remember John 12 where Mary (sister of Martha) was anointing Jesus’ feet with perfumed oil costing 300 denarii, a year’s wage. Judas Iscariot saw this and said that the oil could have been sold and the proceeds given to the poor. And what does Scripture say right afterwards? Jesus pointed out that we’ll always have the poor with us, and Mary did this in preparation for his burial, for we would not always have him. Furthermore, the writer of the Gospel goes on to explain that the REAL reason Judas advocated selling the oil wasn’t because he cared a darn thing for the poor. He was like every liberal Democrat politician today (and not a few RINOs) who has spiritually succeeded him. He said this because he used to steal from the disciples’ purse. Read it. That’s what verse 6 says: Judas was a thief (just like Obama and all the rest).

    One other thing: remember the feeding of the 5000 in John 6. Afterwards Jesus and his disciples crossed the Lake to Capernaum on the other side. The crowd awoke the next morning and saw Jesus gone, so they followed on foot. When they caught up with him, they asked why he departed. What did Jesus say? It’s in verses 26 and 27: “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.”

    The social justice types in the Church have reduced the Gospel message to feeding bellies. That is NOT the goal. Jesus said so. The goal is saving souls from Satan and hell. Yes, as Christians we must care for the poor – back to Matthew 25 again. And yes, it’s nigh unto impossible to attend to one’s spiritual needs when one has an empty stomach. That’s why Jesus fed the 5000 with food first in John 6. But instead of paying attention to their spiritual condition once their bellies were full, they expected another free handout and Jesus said “No!” That began the Bread of Life discourse.

    This isn’t confusing at all once one reads and studies what is plain as day in Sacred Scripture.


    The Seamless Garment of Jesus Christ is righteousness and holiness before the Lord God of Hosts. Let us wear that garment.

  14. Agree with Hermit’s last comment. One clarification about my previous comment: “lavender coated armichair liberals” is a term not intended to refer to Pope JP II.

    Quick response 1: I was a submarine reactor operator during the Cold War, and as such there was scant chance that I would have ever received an order to launch our nuclear weapons. But as a qualified submariner, I had to learn things about weapons launch just in case I were the only man left alive (every submariner has to). If I had been given an order to launch, then I would have unhesitatingly done so.

    Quick response 2: no one should get to use other people’s money just to support his idea of social justice. Furthermore, social justice comes after we don the Seamless Garment of righteousness and holiness. A nation which murders the unborn and sanctifies homosexual filth deserves no social justice.

    Quick response 3: this idea that by wealth redistribution we can creaste a Kiongdom of Heaven on Earth is unmitigated hubris of the worst sort. St. Peter tells us in one of his epistles that one day the elements themselves will be melted away. Revelation goes on to describe the new Heaven and the new Earth. These social justice types who think they can bring about a man-made utopia on your tax dollars and mine will find themselves sadly mistaken.

  15. “The Seamless Garment image is just that, an imagedrawn from the Gospel account that the soldiers ddid not want to rip that precious piece of Jesus’ clothing apart.”

    A statement that does nothing to refute what I said.

  16. Liberals use the term “Seamless Garment” to equivocate their version of social justice (i.e., taking your money and giving it to those who refuse to work) with intrinsic evils such as abortion and homosexual filth.

    The real “Seamless Garment” is Jesus’ righteousness and holiness. He died NOT to fill bellies but to save souls from hell. However, a civilzation that commits wanton adultery, fornication, homosexual sodomy and infanticide with complete abandon as we have done has already cast off the Seamless Garment. Thinking that it can be re-donned by wealth re-distribution is the same as the complaint that Judas Iscariot gave in John 12, “But this oil could have been sold and the proceeds given to the poor.”

    “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and then all these things shall be added unto thee.” We have got to stop sinning first. Duh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  17. I admire and respect your faith and commitment to the Church and nation before that. A classmate from grade school here in Ireland became a SAC Pilot. I used visit him after retirement . He told me the the rock-hard place he was in IF the signal to drop the bombs was sent. Could not get back home due to fuel. I ;pray daily for all troops and all wars. I see you perhaps not understanding St Augustine’s “hate the sin but love the sinner” principle. Providing a secure social net for those in need is perfectly legitimate as i read the OT Prophets and Jesus’ Beatitudes. I see no justification for a nanny state nor for ubridled consumption and selfish use of the Good God’s gifts- no extremism.

  18. I never said, Hermit, that I would be glad to launch a nuke. I said that I would unhesitatingly launch if given the order. Nothing in what I said should be construed as hating the sinner, else I would have to hate myself.

    I wonder if you ever served your country. That doesn’t mean that service to country overrides service to God as it does under Obama’s liberal social justice that forces Catholic institutions to promote abortion. But there once was a time when we faced an evil empire called the USSR and the only thing the Commissars respected was MAD – Mutual Assurred Destruction – a policy and program that has enabled you to live till now to say the things that you say.

    I have no opposition to local communities – cities and villages – voting on measures to care for those in need. I have every opposition to this being a responsibility of an already omnipotent federal government whose Caesar is deified for no other reason than the bread and circuses he can dispense to the rabble from the teat of the public treasury.

    Furthermore, if we say that the Bible implies that social justice should come from government, then why shouldn’t morality so derive? Why shouldn’t adultery, fornication and homosexuality be made illegal? If we mandate for religious reasons social justice from the government, then why not moral justice? Here the line of thinking of liberals breaks down. Now I don’t advocate legislating morality any more than I advocate legislating social justice.

    I will repeat: no social justice safety nets until this wicked and rebellious generation of iniquity and depravity repents. As long as we sin, then we can and should expect social injustice, and no amount of social engineering can override the law which states, “The wages of sin are death.”

  19. Please Paul I did not quote the St Augustine principle to apply to war. No way. The OT prophets as you may know railed against the people in power, who were in a “theocracic” mode- they represented God, managed the holy shrines, later the Temple and were administrators of justice as well. Recall the Temple crowd re-wrote the commandment about honouring parents to allw that money to go to the Temple, korban and Jesus took a swing at them for that and other shenanigans.
    The Church in Rome after the pagan Empire collapsed took over the pagan Empire’s role of giving the people corn for their bread. There is no magic formula in the Bible or the CCC that decides how much for “butter and guns” the old question about food and security. At this stage of my life, praying for and encouraging respewct for all human life, Jesus’ compassionate forgiveness of the sinner

  20. Phillip: do not understand your comment on the origin of the Seamless Garment image used by the late very saintly Cardinal J Bernardin of Chicago. My use of the image is to show that LIFE is of a piece, and we cannot destroy any of it recklessly, without leaving an opening for some group, Party or ideology to justify attacking all of it.

  21. Hermit, I cannot disagree with your last comment. My point is this: we need to repent before we can expect social justice. Liberals think that if we just give a little bit more money from the public treasury to the rabble, then we can cure sin. It doesn’t work that way. In fact, I would say that the US, the UK and the rest of Western Civilization must go through a period of purgation (if you will) to purify us of the sin and filth that so infects our mutual countries before we can expect social justice. I would also posit that if we as Christians actually did our duty in caring for the sick, feeding the poor, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, etc., then we wouldn’t need nanny government to do that for us. But we have gotten lazy and complacent in our prosperity.

    Consider: when the rich man went to visit Jesus, he asked Jesus what he had to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus said he had to obey the Commandments. The young man responded that he had done so all his life. Jesus, Scripture tells us, looked on the young man and loved him, telling him that he still lacked one thing: he had to sell what he had and give to the poor. The young man went away sorrowful. Now notice that Jesus never said that the disciples were to confiscate the rich man’s belongings and redistribute the wealth to the poor (Judas Iscariot would have proposed that, keeping for himself much of the proceeds). Nor did Jesus say that Caesar was to redistribute the wealth. Rather, the young man had to give willingly. Now was the purpose of this to care for the poor? NO! It was to remove an idol between the rich man and eternal life in Heaven. That doesn’t mean that Jesus doesn’t care about the poor. Rather, it means that idolatry must first be removed before we can expect social justice.

  22. Absulutely Paul. We are i ntrinsically free to decide to be part of a community or lone rangers caring for ourselves alone. JESUS told us in Matthew 25 and earlier in the Beatitudes in 5 and the next chapters of commentary to care for His Body the poor and naked etc. The Government uses its police power to get its share. As citizens we can lobby for more butter, as in more help for the poor as Jesus said- today “womb to tomb” we say and reduce the gun money IF IF and we know the principles and can name the extremes as we see the Big Picture from our values.

  23. “My use of the image is to show that LIFE is of a piece, and we cannot destroy any of it recklessly, without leaving an opening for some group, Party or ideology to justify attacking all of it.”

    Agreed. Which is why we can’t reduce Catholic Social teaching to an image even if used by a saintly Cardinal. What we must use is reason to apply it properly. That includes the fullness of Catholic teaching which commands assent to fundamentals and freedom of thought where licit. This point is best summed up by the thought of our current Pope:

    “3. Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.”

  24. The phrase “of a piece” is a way of saying it is seamless, has no sections or patches. No quarrel here about the fact that it is SEAMLESS but not all are equal in weight, value for public office, see what BXV1 as CDF Prefect said about how to decide for whom to vote. AS to one quote above, at one point every moral Bible OT teaching about same-gender activity, bestiality, adultery, fornication and divorce were adopted and made the basis of the US common law. You know what happened of course!

  25. “Bible OT teaching about same-gender activity, bestiality, adultery, fornication and divorce were adopted and made the basis of the US common law”

    The prohibition of these immoral behaviors are NT teachings also: Romans 1:18-32 and 1st Corinthians 6:9-10.

    BTW, at one time they were the basis of English common law from which US commopn law descends. But the English went liberal and the US is following suit.

    As long as we tolerate “same-gender activity, bestiality, adultery, fornication and divorce,” then the Seamless Garment will remain torn. Righteousness and holiness come FIRST.

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