KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Vatican Rebukes Group Of Nuns On Support For Health Law

The Catholic Church hierarchy cracks down on the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, a group of nuns who supported the 2010 health reform.

The Associated Press: Vatican Orders Crackdown On US Nun Association
The Vatican orthodoxy watchdog announced Wednesday a full-scale overhaul of the largest umbrella group for nuns in the United States. ... [Church officials] said the reform would include a review of ties between the [Leadership Conference of Women Religious] and NETWORK, a Catholic social justice lobby. NETWORK played a key role in supporting the Obama administration's health care overhaul despite the bishops' objections that the bill would provide government funding for abortion (Zoll, 4/18).

The New York Times: Vatican Reprimands A Groups Of U.S. Nuns And Plans Changes
The sisters were also reprimanded for making public statements that "disagree with or challenge the bishops, who are the church's authentic teachers of faith and morals." During the debate over the health care overhaul in 2010, American bishops came out in opposition to the health plan, but dozens of sisters, many of whom belong to the Leadership Conference, signed a statement supporting it — support that provided crucial cover for the Obama administration in the battle over health care (Goodstein, 4/18).

USA Today/Religion News Service: Vatican Orders Crackdown On American Nuns
It added that "crucial" issues like "the church's biblical view of family life and human sexuality, are not part of the [Leadership Conference of Women Religious] agenda in a way that promotes church teaching. Moreover, occasional public statements by the LCWR that disagree with or challenge positions taken by the bishops, who are the church's authentic teachers of faith and morals, are not compatible with its purpose" (Gibson, 4/18).

Kaiser Health News: Some Women's Groups See Another Agenda In Attacks On Contraceptive Coverage
Catholic bishops make no bones about their church's condemnation of birth control, but other organizations that oppose the Obama administration's contraceptive policy haven't embraced that position. Particularly noteworthy is the stance of groups that have led the nation’s decades-long fight against abortion. Publicly, these groups say they are against the coverage mandate because it violates religious freedoms and claim that they don’t take a stand on contraception (Graham, 4/18).

Meanwhile --

Reuters: Top US Republican Rejects Criticism By Catholic Bishops
The top Republican in the U.S. Congress on Wednesday defended his party's proposed deficit-cutting federal budget plan against complaints by Roman Catholic bishops that it would hurt the poor and violate certain "moral criteria." House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner argued that matters would worsen, with the government eventually unable to afford programs for the needy, unless it stops spending more money than it takes in (Ferraro, 4/18).

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