Catholic Identity or Federal Funding?

What does Catholic Charities USA, Catholic Hospitals, and Catholic Colleges have in common when it comes to accepting Federal and/or State funds vs. Catholic Identity? What are the strings that are attached to such funding. Finally what are the implications of when the idea that God is at war with reason and the rule of law?

The question all three Catholic Institutions have to face is does federal and/or state funding in itself limit how the current interpretation of Catholic thought can be promoted when it is at odds with either Federal or State Law. If in fact the promotion of Catholic identity is paramount than why would these Catholic institutions even apply for such funding knowing full well there are strings attached.

Recently the Catholic University of America wanted the Obama administration to exempt Catholic colleges from morally offensive regulations. Had this institution not accepted federal funding this would not even be an issue. The Federal Government is not saying you cannot practice your religion, but it is saying if you accept federal funding you must obey the law.

This has absolutely nothing to do with First Amendment rights of Catholic institutions to be and act faithfully Catholic. If this is the priority than a reasonable question is why are such Catholic institutions accepting Federal Funding.

On Sept. 30, CUA president John Garvey called new Health and Human Services (HHS) regulations a “collective violation” of Catholic beliefs by the federal government. HHS has mandated that health insurance plans include coverage for sterilization, contraception and certain abortion-inducing drugs, even when offered by Catholic institutions. Again the devil is in the details if CUA cannot abide by these regulations than they should not accept Federal Funding. No one is forcing anyone to accept this funding.

Catholic Charities has found this out the hard way. In States and/or cities that have Civil Unions/Gay Marriage protections they have found that they cannot use State or City funding to promote their view that same sex couples can be discriminated against in their adoption/foster care. In those situations funding has been denied.

In Illinois two Catholic Dioceses have opted (Diocese of Peoria and Rockford)  out of the state funded contracts because they believed their right to discriminate against gay couples was more important than then placing these orphans in homes that can provide both love and security. Both Dioceses can certainly discriminate against same sex couples, but they will have to do it with their own funding.

Catholic Hospitals along with US Conference Catholic Bishops of the United States are trying to promote the “Conscious Clause” particularly as it is applied to abortion. Here again the issue is funding. The Bishops want the right to let a “Women Die” rather than allow for an abortion.

Allowing religious figures at Catholic Hospitals to set moral guidelines, to determine medical policy for institutions given federal money to provide health services for all citizens, no matter their belief, may in fact lead to selective treatments. This I believe is the primary worry.

Unfortunately, most Catholic Hospitals are accountable to their local Bishops who has no medical qualifications, but who can dictate what a hospital should do especially in areas of abortion and stem cell research. Again the issue is not the Catholic Faith rather it is the Federal funding to promote a certain view of Catholicism.

The common thread is pretty clear to most reasonable people; if Catholic Charities USA, Catholic Hospitals, and Catholic Colleges want to promote discrimination do not apply for any federal or state funding. In other words if you want to promote discrimination you will have to do it with your own funds.

Mary Floss
Rainbow Sash Movement.


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