Catholic Charities USA Calls on Administration to Protect Religious Freedom
Alexandria, VA–Writing on behalf of the more than 160 Catholic Charities agencies across the nation, Rev. Larry Snyder, President and CEO and the members of the Board of Trustees of Catholic Charities USA, urged the Department of Health and Human Services to reconsider a proposed definition that could undermine the ability of Catholic organizations to provide health care benefits according to their beliefs.
In the 13-page memorandum sent on September 28, Fr. Snyder joined other Catholic organizations, including the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops, the Catholic Health Association, and many Catholic colleges and universities in requesting a re-examination of the rule’s wording.
“For over 100 years, Catholic Charities organizations have been providing help and creating hope for our most vulnerable brothers and sisters,” Fr. Snyder said. “Throughout our history, we have always been able to serve those in need while maintaining our religious identity. These federal regulations, if implemented, would compromise in unprecedented ways the ability of our agencies in local communities across America to provide these services.”
As proposed, the interim regulation defines the preventative health care services for women that must be covered by group health plans to include contraceptive coverage. If implemented, the rule would require that all health plans, including those run by Catholic organizations, provide contraception and sterilizations services to their employees, both of which run counter to Church teaching.
In his comments, Fr. Snyder pointed out that while there is a religious exemption clause included in the proposed rule, it is too narrow to apply to organizations, such as Catholic Charities, who serve and employ persons who do not share its religious tenets. Instead, he added, the HHS should look at exemptions in place in states such as Delaware, Maine, and Maryland, which grant religious employers the right to forgo coverage of contraception if it conflicts with their beliefs.
“We are urging the Administration to adopt language already in state statutes that would provide adequate protection for our agencies and to ensure that we are able to continue our mission grounded in our faith of serving those who are in need in communities all across this country,” he said.
For a full copy of Catholic Charities USA’s comment on the proposed HHS regulation, please visit