There is much in the media lately regarding the Obama administration and Catholic medical centers' religious conscience. Now Peoria Bishop Daniel Jenky has urged Catholics to oppose the new health law that requires insurance plans to cover contraceptives.
However, 15 years ago the Catholic Diocese of Peoria and OSF created and implemented a policy which allows OSF physicians to prescribe oral contraceptives for hundreds of thousands of OSF patients. The Diocese and OSF were not worried about exemption based on religious conscience when they constructed these moral loopholes. They were worried about OSF's bottom line as OSF purchased medical practices and hired hundreds of new physicians.
Doesn't it seem disingenuous now for Bishop Jenky to claim that the Diocese is in a religious liberty battle with the Obama administration over Catholic institutions' health plans being mandated to cover oral contraceptives?
It is time for the Diocese and OSF to decide whether OSF should remain Catholic.
John A. Carroll, M.D.
During the week of January 20, Bishop Jenky released a letter to the laity of the Diocese of Peoria stating how we needed to fight for religious conscience and to oppose President Obama's new mandate.
I am glad that Bishop Jenky supports the First Amendment and religious conscience, but I disagree with the Diocesan/OSF policy allowing OSF physicians to prescribe oral contraceptives. It seems like the Diocese preempted the Obama Administration by about 15 years.
Should OSF continue to be Catholic? What would happen if OSF refused to take federal funds and gave up its tax exempt status? Would OSF survive? Would OSF become more like it was when the founding Sisters established it as "St. Francis Hospital" over a century ago? Hopefully it would become a real Catholic medical center rather than a nominally Catholic medical center like it is now. And the Diocese and OSF could do away with their own oral contraceptive policy that they created which always seemed scandalous and laughable.
President Obama will probably back down some on his mandate. And some sort of loophole will be created which will allows Catholic medical centers to create an insurance rider which will provide oral contraceptives for their employees. And the Catholic Bishops will accept this in a "begrudging" fashion. And all will be just like....Peoria.
The following link is the PJS editorial from yesterday (2/9/2012).