The Archdiocese of New York Responds to the New York Times Piece From Sunday…



May 28, 2013



Joseph Zwilling, Director of Communications for the Archdiocese of New York, released the following statement today, May 27, 2013.

“Today’s New York Times story, “Archdiocese Pays for Health Plan That Covers Birth Control,” incorrectly equates the health care benefits of the members of Union 1199 – including those 1199 employees at Catholic facilities – with the Health and Human Services mandate that improperly attempts to define the Church’s religious ministry and could force religious employers to violate their conscience.  The Constitution and other provisions of federal law prohibit the government from imposing the mandate on the Archdiocese.  A labor union is not subject to the same constraints as the federal government in this regard, and so the fact that 1199 requires these benefits as part of its plan does not excuse the government’s violation of the Archdiocese’s federal rights.

What the 1199 health plan and the HHS mandate share is that the Archdiocese has objected to the dilemma of choosing between providing health care to employees or violating its sincere religious beliefs in both instances.  ArchCare did not exist at the time the contract with 1199 was finalized.  When ArchCare was formed, it inherited this situation and objected to these services being included in the 1199 health plan.  However, ArchCare had no other option but to pay into the fund which administers the union members’ benefits “under protest” to continue to offer insurance to its union workers and remain in the health care field in New York.  Similarly, the Archdiocese has attempted to negotiate with the Administration, advocated for a change in legislation in the Congress, and filed a lawsuit last May objecting to the HHS mandate.  In all cases where the health insurance benefit plan is under the control of the Archdiocese, including for all non-union ArchCare employees, contraceptive care services are not provided.”

The article in the Sunday New York Times can be found here.

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5 Responses to The Archdiocese of New York Responds to the New York Times Piece From Sunday…

  1. Chris says:

    “Under protest”? Is that all it takes to violate conscience? If I steal from my neighbors “under protest”, does that make it OK? This has seriously undermined the stated position of the USCCB.


  2. Perhaps – but couldn’t a case be made that we all act similarly when we pay taxes knowing that some fund grave evils? Both are cases of proximate material cooperation with evil. The question is whether the good sought is proportionate.

    I think you are right that there is great danger of scandal, though.


  3. AquinasMan says:

    Shorter Archdiocese: “It’s just a pinch of incense.”


  4. Charles Beard says:

    This doesn’t help the Archdiocese’s position at all.

    It makes a legal argument not a moral one. The whole problem with the HHS mandate is that it requires what the bishops are calling formal cooperation with evil. The correctness of that claim has no bearing whether or not the mandate is constitutional.

    So basically the Archdiocese is bringing up irrelevant information (i.e. its belief that the mandate is unconstitutional while labor union requirements are not) to distract from the fact that it is paying into a Big Pile of Money, some of which is used to pay for immoral services.

    The question remains: is doing that always formal cooperation with evil or is it sometimes remote cooperation? If the only difference between ArchCare and the HHS mandate is a disagreement over constitutionality, then either the Archdiocese is corporately and scandalously sinning each month by making health premium payments or the whole thing is remote cooperation with evil and thus not an infringement on religious liberty.

    I rather suspect it’s the latter, but I could be wrong. It’s entirely possible it’s the former and the only thing we can do as a Church is opt out of everything. But if that’s the case, I’d rather the bishops say that rather than launch a legal challenge and then abide by whatever the courts wind up deciding.


  5. Chris says:

    Nicholas, you make a great point. In fact, one of the more troubling aspects of the USCCB’s official stance on this issue has been the contrary expectation that we lay-people should ignore our consciences regarding taxes. I personally don’t see a great deal of difference between my obligation to conscience and that of the corporate Church.


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