Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

As we celebrate the 175th Anniversary of the Archdiocese, we look back… on July 19, 1915 when ground was broken for St. Stephen Church, Hamden.
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NEW HAVEN – The Knights of Columbus has filed a formal comment with the Department of Health and Human Services asking the Obama administration to expand religious exemptions or rescind "altogether" the mandate for insurance coverage of sterilization and contraception.

"It is time for this administration to chart another course," said the June 19 letter, signed by Supreme Knight Carl Anderson.

The organization said the HHS mandate requires private Catholic individuals and entities, including the Knights of Columbus, to "violate their most deeply held religious beliefs" in apparent violation of federal law and the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.

The Catholic fraternal and charitable group said "it is improper to deny statutory and First Amendment rights to religious liberty in order to create an entitlement to sterilization, abortifacients, and contraception."

The Knights advocated for an expanded religious exemption that protects "all objecting individuals and organizations from cooperating in actions that genuinely offend their religious beliefs and moral convictions."

They also stated that the right to individual free exercise of religion and the right of institutions are "inseparably linked."

"Both must be protected."

The Department of Health and Human Services held a comment period on proposed rules for preventive services under the 2010 health care legislation known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The period for comment ended Tuesday.

On Jan. 20, the federal department finalized a rule which required employers’ health plans to provide no co-pay coverage for sterilization and contraception, including some abortion-causing drugs, as "preventive care" for women. Because of the narrowness of the mandate’s religious exemption, many Catholic institutions fall under the requirement despite their moral objections to the procedures and drugs.

On Feb. 10 the Obama administration made a proposal to require insurance companies, not employers, to provide the coverage. Catholic and other faith leaders said the proposal is still unacceptable.

The present HHS comment period on that proposal could help determine the outcome of the conflict.

The Knights of Columbus has 1.3 million U.S. members, who donate millions of dollars to charity and work millions of volunteer hours each year.

Other Catholic organizations also submitted comment for new proposed rules.

The Catholic Health Association argued for a broader religious exemption in a June 15 letter, reversing its earlier support for the Obama administration’s accommodation that would require insurance companies to foot the bill for the mandate.

On June 18, the National Catholic Bioethics Center submitted a letter calling for the full rescinding of the mandate. At minimum, it said, the government should provide a "robust, non-discretionary exemption" for any employer, insurance company, college, or individual with religious objections.

A comment was also filed today by the Bioethics Defense Fund. The fund focused on how the accommodation still involves material cooperation with evil and also presented a scientific argument that the mandated drugs are capable of terminating human life.


alertAt the Spring Assembly of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin suggested that a delegation ofbishops go to the border to see for themselves what was happening to newly arrived immigrants, families and children. On July 1 and 2, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, and five other bishops conducted a pastoral visit to the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Stops included Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle with the community, a visit to anHHS/OBR Shelter and Mass for the families there, a visit to the Customs and Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, and a press conference at the end of their visit. Catholic News Service accompanied the bishops on their border trip. 

  1. Backgrounder and analysis of the bishops’ trip to the border: Cardinal DiNardo told CNS, “You cannot look at immigration as an abstraction when you meet” the people behind the issue.
  2. At final press conference, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo said the church was willing to be part of any conversation to find humane solutions because even a policy of detaining families together in facilities caused “concern.”
  3. Bishops serve soup to immigrant families at a center run by Catholic Charities and listen to their stories. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”
  4. At an opening Mass he Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville told Massgoers, “The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us,”

A delegation of U.S. bishops goes on a fact-finding mission at the U.S.-Mexican border to learn more about Central American immigration detention.

Following their visit to an immigrant detention center, U.S. bishops said they are even more determined to call on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform.