Cardinals Call on HHS to Abandon Mandate

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Cardinal Timothy Dolan and Cardinal Blase Cupich

In an op-ed published in America magazine, Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago and Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York condemned efforts by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to require Catholic hospitals to perform sex re-assignment surgeries on transgender patients.

Quoting Pope Francis, the cardinals wrote: “Every health care facility, especially those of Christian inspiration, should be a place where care for the person is practiced and where it can be said: ‘Here you do not see only doctors and patients, but people who welcome and help each other; here you can experience the therapy of human dignity.’”

The cardinals insist that this is true for Catholic hospitals, as they do not discriminate against anyone, including transgender persons, in providing necessary and appropriate medical care. “However,” they wrote, “if health care facilities are to be places where the twin pillars of faith and science stand together, then these facilities and their workers must not be coerced by the government to violate their consciences.”

HHS has proposed an interpretation of Section 1557, the nondiscrimination provision of the Affordable Care Act, to include refusal to participate in gender transition procedures as discrimination, regardless of religious belief or clinical judgment. The proposed interpretation offers no exemption for religious objections. HHS would have the authority to require health care workers to provide these therapies regardless of their conscience objections. “Such a mandate threatens the conscience rights of all health care providers and workers who discerned that participating in, or facilitating, gender transition procedures is contrary to their own beliefs,” Cupich and Dolan wrote. They go on to say, “In a society that protects the free exercise of religion, religious health care providers cannot be expected to violate the teachings of their religion as a condition of continuing their care, and religious health care workers cannot be expected to violate their consciences as a condition of employment.”

Recent court decisions have ruled in favor of Franciscan Alliance, a network of Catholic hospitals, and other plaintiffs, in their efforts to sue HHS and protect their religious and conscience rights.

The two cardinal archbishops called on HHS to reconsider its “misguided mandate.”

Closing out their op-ed, Cupich and Dolan wrote, “In Christ, God became flesh, suffered, died and rose from the dead. Jesus shows us what it is to be human and how to truly care for others. This vision of sacrificial love and service is our only mandate.”

Three cheers for Cardinal Cupich and Cardinal Dolan! This is the kind of leadership Catholics expect from their bishops.

Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.

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