The Gregorian Institute Shield, composed of the crossed gold and silver keys of the Papal Insignia, an open book with the words 'Via Veritas Vita' ('The Way, the Truth, and the Life') written on its pages, three golden six-sided stars on a red banner, and a Germanic cross.

at BENEDICTINE COLLEGE

Defending Catholic Identity in Health Care Reform

September 30 is the last day to submit comments to U.S. Department of Health & Human Services regarding religious exemptions for contraception coverage.

Benedictine College is proud to report that the three principal officers of the College — the president, dean and chief financial officer — all submitted testimony. So did our Dean of Students, College Minister, Vice President of College Relations and many others at the school.  Benedictine College is also one 18 colleges that joined with the Cardinal Newman Society in joint appeal.

Submit your comments here.   This is not a partisan political issue, but an issue of public response to a regulation in an existing law.

Dean of the College Dr. Kimberly Shankman submitted these comments:

“As the academic dean of a Catholic College, I am respectfully requesting, on behalf of my institution and others similarly situated, that HHS reconsider the exceptionally narrow religious exemption included in the “preventive services” mandate.

“As an institution of higher education, our mission is the education of men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.  The religious exemption in the draft regulations would not recognize our freedom to carry out this mission.  While the inculcation of religious values is not our primary purpose, (and, therefore, we do not qualify under the exceptionally narrow definition of a religious organization contained within the regulations) nevertheless, adherence to the tenets of our faith is an obligation central to our identity as a Catholic college.

“To provide contraceptive coverage would be contrary to our institutional commitment to the teaching of the Catholic church.  The religious exemption in the mandate is not broad enough to protect the legitimate conscience rights of institutions that have a well-founded and well-established commitment to religious principles and practices that would prevent them from conscientiously complying with the mandate.

“Therefore, I request that the mandate be removed in its entirety; failing that, I would ask that the religious exemption be broadened to be more consistent with existing practice, exempting organizations like ours from the burden of laws that contradict their very purpose and mission.”

 

Tom Hoopes

Tom Hoopes is vice president of college relations at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas. A former reporter in the Washington, D.C., area, he served as press secretary of U.S. House Ways & Means Chairman Bill Archer and then spent 10 years as executive editor of the National Catholic Register newspaper and Faith & Family magazine. He writes weekly for Catholic Vote, the National Catholic Register and Aleteia. His work frequently appears in Catholic publications such as Catholic Digest. He lives in Atchison, Kansas, with his wife, April, and nine children.