Sr. Keehan No Longer Supports HHS Mandate “Accommodation”

Sister Carol Keehan, the infamous head of the Catholic Health Association who came out in support of the president’s HHS mandate “accommodation” has apparently read the fine print and realized Catholic hospitals gained nothing in the “compromise” and is now expressing her “profound  disappointment” with it.

Sr. Keehan, who is president and chief executive officer  of the Catholic Health Association (CHA), published a letter on Feb. 15 on the CHA website entitled, “Something Has to be Fixed.”  In it she claims the CHA and its members were profoundly disappointed to learn that the definition of a religious employer was not going to be broadened in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ rules for preventive services for women.

“The impact of being told we do not fit the new definition of a religious employer and therefore cannot operate our ministries following our consciences has jolted us,” Sr. Keehan writes.

Calling the president’s accommodation a “missed opportunity,” she cites the threat to religious liberty being imposed by the mandate. 

“From President Thomas Jefferson to President Barack Obama, we have been promised a respect for appropriate religious freedom.  The first amendment to our Constitution affirms it. We are a pluralistic country, and it takes respectful dialogue to sort this out fairly.”

She goes on to say that CHA “has expressed concern and disappointment about this on behalf of the ministry. We have said the problem is not resolved, and we must have a national conversation on this.”

Sr. Keehan then claims to be working closely with the U.S. bishops, Catholic Relief Services, Catholic Charities USA, the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities and others, to look at options to resolve the problem, and will discuss the situation at an upcoming CHA board meeting.

“I assure you that we will use the time to pursue a correction during the one-year extension. We will give this issue priority and consult with members and experts as we evaluate options to deal with this.”

Commenting on the surprise reversal, Fr. Zuhlsdorf speculates that Sr. Keehan may have found herself in trouble with the board. “There is division in the CHA. Not everyone is with Sr. Keehan.”

Although the letter was published yesterday, it has received no coverage in the mainstream media, nor has the Obama Administration admitted that Sr. Keehan has reversed herself and is no longer supporting the mandate.

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One Response to “Sr. Keehan No Longer Supports HHS Mandate “Accommodation”

  1. I read the posting of this article on the Catholic Health Association website the same way. I, too, wondered why it was not getting its requisite media attention. The article’s publication date is February 15, 2012, after the “accommodation” was announced but President Obama (and the simultaneous approval from CHA); however, it appears that this article by Sr. Keehan criticizing the mandate may have been written before the “accommodation” for a printed publication. Would that it were indeed a reversal of the statement that buoyed the “accommodation” and thrilled the media.