March 9, 2012

Obama's HHS mandate will destroy the Little Sisters of the Poor's ministry to the elderly

This will make you angry. Via the Catholic News Agency:

Baltimore, Md., Mar 8, 2012 / 12:34 am (CNA).- The Little Sisters of the Poor say the HHS contraception and sterilization mandate threatens their continued ministry to the impoverished elderly. They are “strongly objecting” to the federal rule and say it should be repealed as soon as possible.

“Because the Little Sisters of the Poor cannot in conscience directly provide or collaborate in the provision of services that conflict with Church teaching, we find ourselves in the irreconcilable situation of being forced to either stop serving and employing people of all faiths in our ministry – so that we will fall under the narrow exemption – or to stop providing health care coverage to our employees,” the order said on March 1.

“Either path threatens to end our service to the elderly in America. The Little Sisters are fervently praying that this issue will be resolved before we are forced to take concrete action in response to this unjust mandate.”

Their order serves 13,000 needy elderly of all faiths in 31 countries around the world. In the U.S., it has 30 homes for the elderly, accommodating 2,500 low-income seniors.

The Department of Health and Human Services mandate requires employers to provide coverage for “preventive health.” It defines this coverage to include sterilization and contraception, including some abortion-causing drugs. The Obama administration’s proposed compromise would mandate that insurance companies, not employers, provide this coverage.

The mandate’s religious exemption applies only to employers who primarily serve and employ their coreligionists and have the inculcation of religious values as their primary purpose.

The Little Sisters of the Poor said that even the indirect subsidizing of such benefits is “unconscionable to us.” Their longstanding health insurance has always explicitly excluded sterilization, contraception and abortion from covered services and this policy has “never been a matter of controversy in our homes.”

The sisters warned that the successful implementation of the federal rule could set a precedent for “further intrusion of government into health care.”

They have done their best to comply with all applicable government regulations and are not prone to making statements on politics or public policy, but they “cannot refrain from speaking out” about the mandate, the sisters said.
We're talking about genuine Catholic nuns who live their vows of chastity, poverty, obedience, and hospitality, not lobbyists who sell out their religion and their country for material and political gain.

The Little Sisters have been forced to speak up. And they're asking a very pertinent question:
“If the federal government succeeds in enforcing this rule, what is to stop it from rationing health care to seniors or including euthanizing procedures on the list of required ‘preventive services’ as a way of eliminating the costs associated with caring for our aging population?” they asked.

“Would health care providers like the Little Sisters of the Poor then be forced to cooperate in such practices?”

“We wish to affirm that the HHS mandate is an unjust and dangerous infringement upon the natural and constitutional rights of Americans and that the only just solution is to rescind it. The Little Sisters of the Poor call upon Congress and the Executive Branch to reverse this decision as soon as possible and we pledge our prayers and sacrifices for the true good of our beloved country,” the order said.
But the Obama administration assures us it has striven to "strike the appropriate balance between respecting religious freedom and increasing access to important preventive services." That means when it comes to a contest between the "right" of college students to "free" contraceptives vs. the housing, feeding, and nursing of the elderly poor, the old folks lose. No matter that most of the elderly are women, or that the sisters are women, too. They're the wrong kind of women.

The Little Sisters are just one example of the many organizations that will be killed off by the mandate, since the "choices" they face aren't choices at all. In case you missed it, Cardinal George on that:
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. 
His Eminence on freedom of worship vs. religious liberty:
The provision of health care should not demand “giving up” religious liberty. Liberty of religion is more than freedom of worship. Freedom of worship was guaranteed in the Constitution of the former Soviet Union. You could go to church, if you could find one. The church, however, could do nothing except conduct religious rites in places of worship-no schools, religious publications, health care institutions, organized charity, ministry for justice and the works of mercy that flow naturally from a living faith. All of these were co-opted by the government. We fought a long cold war to defeat that vision of society.

The strangest accusation in this manipulated public discussion has the bishops not respecting the separation between church and state. The bishops would love to have the separation between church and state we thought we enjoyed just a few months ago, when we were free to run Catholic institutions in conformity with the demands of the Catholic faith, when the government couldn’t tell us which of our ministries are Catholic and which not, when the law protected rather than crushed conscience. The state is making itself into a church. The bishops didn’t begin this dismaying conflict nor choose its timing. We would love to have it ended as quickly as possible. It’s up to the government to stop the attack.

One more excerpt from the Little Sisters' statement
As Little Sisters of the Poor we are not strangers to religious intolerance. Our foundress, Saint Jeanne Jugan, was born in the midst of the French Revolution and established our Congregation in its aftermath. In 1851 the first group of Little Sisters ventured beyond France to begin establishing homes for the elderly in Great Britain, where their selfless charity triumphed over the rampant anti-Catholic sentiments of the time.

In 1868 the first Little Sisters of the Poor to set foot on American soil were amazed at the warm welcome and generosity of the people of this country. For over 140 years Little Sisters have cared for the elderly poor, welcomed the collaboration of volunteers and benefactors from their local communities and employed lay staff and consultants to help in our mission – all without discriminating on the basis of race or religion. Nor have the Little Sisters of the Poor ever faced religious discrimination or persecution in this great nation.
Can there be any doubt that what the Obama administration is doing constitutes religious persecution?

Many thanks to Pew Sitter and Creative Minority Report for linking.
Linked by Larwyn -- thanks!


  1. Unfortunately I think it's going to take the Catholic hospitals to stop providing healthcare and for this to personally affect a lot more people before this is reversed.

  2. Well, duh. Isn't this what the left wants; put private charity out of business so Big Gov can step in and take over those efforts?

  3. I think I am missing something here, so someone, please explain it to me. Why do Catholics HAVE TO follow the demands of the HC Act? Why can't each Catholic self-insure him or herself? Aren't there insurance companies, somewhere, that sell 'buffet style' policies for Health? It just seems logical that there would be.

    (Auto insurance has the 'buffet style' policy where you pick and choose what you want covered. Why not health insurance? Someone explain this to me, please.

    1. Because the act requires all "employers" to provide insurance. You do propose a provocative question -- a loophole perhaps. What happens if all Catholic employees become 1099 self-employed contractors? WELL, for some people that could work, but for many people it would not because they really aren't in a position to file all the extra tax paperwork -- or are they?

    2. The individual mandate means that everyone will have to buy insurance (or pay a penalty) and the govt will set the terms of the policies, which will have to meet certain requirements in order to meet the guidelines of eligibility. There will be little or no market for "buffet" style plans since they will almost certainly not meet HHS requirements.

    3. And if they can get away with it, they will force contraceptives etc. coverage on everyone.

  4. Joe

    How about the Church just keeps on doing what they know is right and defy the HHS order. How about some civil disobedience from the Church let Obama and his Maxist followers come in and forcibly shut down the 611 hospitals. Call his bluff and while we are at it tell him to shove the tax exempt status than we can use the pulpit to explain to our follows the evil that has taken over our country by name.

    1. That is exactly my question. Why are the choices give in to government or shut our doors?

      Don't. Just don't.

      Don't pay the fines. Don't pay for the immoral procedures or coverage. Don't close our doors (that's what they want).

      Just keep doing the charitable work. Unjust laws are no laws at all and we are not morally or civilly obligated to pay attention to them.

      Just don't.

  5. Even your self-insurance plan will require the uniform benefits package required of Obama care. You really have no choice.

  6. It is still amazing that Obama decided to pick this fight in the first place. It is hard to see what he gains and if organizations like the Sisters of the Poor stop providing social services, then either the government will need to pick that up or the social safety net will get smaller.

    1. It's what they want.

      I've long believed -- since government has stepped in to regulate religious (read: Christian) charity (i.e., can't run homeless shelter, food pantries, etc. without tons of gov. interference) -- that the ultimate goal of the atheistic/secular humanist liberals in this nation is to make it impossible for churches to do charitable work in the public sphere (or even privately).

      Then, when church activity (through gov. fiat) is restricted only to worship (privately, on Sundays) the same secular humanist/atheist liberal crowd who shut down our services will say, "Why are we letting these churches function tax exempt, since they do nothing for the good of the community?" Then gov. will take away tax exemption, which will bankrupt a majority of churches.

      Viola! They'll finally get the almost religion-free "utopia" they wanted.

  7. If Obama"care" is a tax - aren't they a tax exempt organization?


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