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 22, 1960 when ground was broken for St. Philip Church, East Windsor.
Catholic Transcript Reader Survey
Catholic Transcript Reader Survey

WASHINGTON (CNS) – Exemptions from certain requirements for contraceptive coverage in the Affordable Care Act will be broadened to include many more types of religious institutions and accommodate the needs of self-insured church entities.

 A new set of proposed rules announced Feb. 1 by the Department of Health and Human Services appear to accommodate many of the objections raised by Catholic institutions, among others, that said the previous rules would force them to stop providing employee health insurance because the federal requirement to include contraceptive coverage violate their religious beliefs.

The expanded exemptions would cover religious institutions of higher education and charitable agencies that do not discriminate on the basis of religion as to whom they serve or employ.

The proposed rules specify, however, that no exemption will be given to "for-profit, secular employers." Some for-profit entities such as Christian-owned toy retailer Hobby Lobby have sued the federal government over the contraceptive mandate, saying that it violates the religious beliefs of the owners and the faith-based company outlook, and so they should be entitled to a religious exemption.

A brief statement from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said the conference welcomed "the opportunity to study the proposed regulations closely. We look forward to issuing a more detailed statement later."

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.