Catholic education leaders cheer HHS mandate revision
U.S. bishops and Catholic education leaders cheered the Trump administration’s newly announced religious and moral exemptions to the HHS contraceptive mandate.
“We welcome the news that this particular threat to religious freedom has been lifted,” Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, chair of the U.S. bishops’ religious liberty committee, said in a statement.
Franciscan University of Steubenville’s president welcomed changes to the mandate, saying that the Newman Guide college is, “grateful that our constitutional right to free exercise of religion has been restored.”
Franciscan was among the first 42 Catholic organizations from around the country to join in filing lawsuits challenging the HHS contraception mandate in May 2012.
“The government has recognized that Franciscan University has the freedom to provide a health plan that does not violate its core religious beliefs as a Catholic institution,” Father Sean Sheridan, TOR, said in a statement. “We see the rule as a hopeful step toward restoring the constitutionally protected religious and moral freedoms of Catholics and all Americans.”
Father John Jenkins, CSC, president of the University of Notre Dame, released a brief statement supporting the new exemptions despite the university’s compliance with the mandate. By complying, Notre Dame disregarded the U.S. bishops’ pleas to Catholic organizations to refuse to provide employee health insurance that covers artificial contraception and sterilization.
“We welcome this reversal and applaud the attorney general’s statement that ‘except in the narrowest circumstances, no one should be forced to choose between living out his or her faith and complying with the law,’” Fr. Jenkins said.
No word yet from the university on reversing its decision to comply with the mandate.
Senate committee advances Catholic professor’s nomination
In a party line vote, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee voted to move the judicial nomination of University of Notre Dame law professor Amy Barrett to the full Senate.
Barrett’s nomination process became national news when committee Democrats questioned her about her Catholic faith. Senator Diane Feinstein infamously said she was concerned that Catholic “dogma lives loudly” within Barrett.
Prior to the vote, Republicans criticized Democrats for essentially attempting to impose a religious test (or more accurately a non-religious test) on judicial nominees.