For the past several years, the Catholic Health Association (CHA) demonstrated real political courage. When the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) tried to condemn the Affordable Care Act and then the recent Health and Human Services contraceptive rule by associating them with abortion, the CHA challenged the bishops’ dishonest political rhetoric. For their honesty, the CHA faced enormous blowback from the Church hierarchy.
The CHA was a particularly effective voice of reason because they represent the actual health care providers of the Catholic Church. They are doctors, nurses, and hospital officials and staff. While the bishops lobby unto Caesar, the CHA saves lives. They speak with real moral authority. They spoke against the USCCB, who were doing their outraged utmost to pretend the HHS rule was anything more than a federal codification of existing state law.
Unfortunately, yesterday the CHA caved under intense pressure from the conservative upper echelons of the Church and reversed their earlier support for the HHS contraceptive rule. Before, the CHA stood with the majority of actual Catholics who support the HHS rule. They were a valuable reminder that the Catholic Church is actually far more than a conservative PR firm. Now, the CHA stands with the bishops instead, and there is that much less intellectual diversity and representativeness in the Church hierarchy.