February 7th, 2013
03:34 PM ET
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) – The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops does not support the Obama administration’s revised proposal for providing insurance coverage for contraception, saying it falls short of addressing concerns about religious freedom.
In a response to the policy update announced last week by the Department of Health and Human Services, the church leaders said the policy offers “second-class status to our first-class institutions in Catholic health care, Catholic education and Catholic charities.”
“Because the stakes are so high, we will not cease from our effort to assure that healthcare for all does not mean freedom for few,” Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the conference, said in a statement. “We will continue to stand united with brother bishops, religious institutions, and individual citizens who seek redress in the courts for as long as this is necessary.”
Although the bishops identified the changes as a step in the right direction, they made it clear that they were not satisfied.
February 7th, 2013
09:51 AM ET
Editor's note: Dagfinn Høybråten is a vice president of the Norwegian Parliament and chairman of the GAVI Alliance Board. GAVI is a public-private partnership that works with governments, vaccine producers, faith-based organizations and others to expand access to vaccines and immunization. Since its launch in 2000, GAVI has helped immunize 370 million children in the poorest countries.
By Dagfinn Høybråten, Special to CNN
Despite their political, religious and ethnic differences, leaders from around the world are coming together for today's National Prayer Breakfast in Washington. As they do, it is worth noting that faith and science are also coming together around the world to promote healing and equality in the form of access to vaccines.
Vaccines are a triumph of science due to their incredible capacity to save lives and protect health. Yet vaccines reach only four out of five children who need them. To reach the fifth child, science has found an important partner in the faith community, which helps bring vaccines to the most remote areas and the children who need them most. FULL POST
February 1st, 2013
01:55 AM ET
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) – Religiously affiliated organizations will be able to opt out of providing their employees with insurance coverage for contraceptives under updates to an Obama administration mandate that the Department of Health and Human Services is expected to unveil on Friday, according to two sources.
In March, after an uproar among religious institutions that didn't want to pay for contraceptives, the Obama administration offered several policy suggestions that would require the administrator of the insurance policy, not the religious institution or the insurer, to pay for contraception coverage and invited comment on those proposals.FULL STORY
July 6th, 2012
06:30 AM ET
Editor's note: Watch more of Dr. Sanjay Gupta's interview with Melinda Gates on Sanjay Gupta MD on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. ET and Sunday at 7:30 a.m. ET.
(CNN) - Responding to simmering controversy among Catholic bloggers about her new birth control program, Melinda Gates - a practicing Catholic - said she will not shrink from her role as an advocate for poor women.
"Part of what I do with the (Gates) Foundation comes form that incredible social justice I had growing up and belief that all lives, all lives are of equal value," said Gates during a recent interview with CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
About the flak over her Catholicism she said: "We're not going to agree about everything, but that's OK."FULL STORY
June 28th, 2012
08:45 AM ET
Editor’s note: This piece ran earlier this year, but we’re spotlighting it now because of Thursday’s health care decision from the Supreme Court. The story generated more than 3,000 comments, including these two:
What’s your take?
By John Blake, CNN
(CNN) – He was a healer, a provider of universal health care, a man of compassion who treated those with preexisting medical conditions.
We don’t know what Jesus thought about the individual mandate or buying broccoli. But we do know how the New Testament describes him. The Gospels are filled with stories of Jesus physically healing the most vulnerable and despised people in his society.
June 27th, 2012
01:46 PM ET
By John Blake, CNN
(CNN) – When Wendell Potter first saw them, he froze.
“It felt like touching an electrical fence,” he says. “I remember tearing up and thinking, how could this be real.”
Thousands of them had lined up under a cloudy sky in an open field. Many had camped out the night before. When their turns came, doctors treated them in animal stalls and on gurneys placed on rain-soaked sidewalks.
They were Americans who needed basic medical care. Potter had driven to the Wise County Fairgrounds in Virginia in July 2007 after reading that a group called Remote Area Medical, which flew American doctors to remote Third World villages, was hosting a free outdoor clinic.
Potter, a Cigna health care executive who ate from gold-rimmed silverware in corporate jets, says that morning was his “Road to Damascus” experience.
“It looked like a refugee camp,” Potter says. “It just hit me like a bolt of lightning. What I was doing for a living was making it necessary for people to resort to getting care in animal stalls.”
The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Thursday on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act is a colossal legal and political issue. For Potter, though, the issue became a crisis of faith.
June 18th, 2012
11:24 AM ET
By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor
(CNN) – The Obama administration’s key Catholic ally on its controversial plan to require health insurers to provide free contraceptive coverage is dropping support for the plan, potentially complicating the president’s relations with Catholics in an election year.
The Catholic Health Association, which comprises 2,000 Catholic hospitals, health systems and related organizations, said Friday that although it had initially supported what the White House called a compromise on the contraception issue, it is now “deeply concerned” about the plan and says the White House “has not relieved our initial concerns.”
Many Catholic groups expressed opposition to the Obama administration’s proposal to require employers to provide free contraception coverage to their employees. Although the plan exempted churches, other religiously affiliated employers - including colleges and hospitals - were not exempt.
May 21st, 2012
01:03 PM ET
By Alan Duke, CNN
(CNN) - The University of Notre Dame and "a diverse group of plaintiffs" filed lawsuits Monday challenging the federal mandate that religious employers offer health insurance that includes coverage of contraceptives and birth control services, Notre Dame spokeswoman Shannon Chapla said.
The Notre Dame suit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Northern Indiana, is one of a dozen filed Monday by 43 separate Catholic institutions in different federal courts around the United States, Chapla said.
The lawsuits are efforts to "vindicate the country's constitutional and traditional commitments to religious freedom and pluralism," Notre Dame law professor Richard W. Garnett said in a university statement.
May 18th, 2012
02:58 PM ET
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) – In an anticipated and controversial address Friday, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius delivered a speech that blended inspirational messages to graduates with a discussion of public policy's tough decisions, including health care and honoring religious freedom.
Her speech at the Georgetown Public Policy Institute awards ceremony had been considered controversial by conservative Catholic organizations that saw her appearance as the university validating her positions on abortion and contraception.
The speech did not mention the controversy directly, but Sebelius did address faith in public life in a section of the speech devoted to John F. Kennedy, the first Catholic president of the United States.
"Kennedy was elected president on November 8, 1960," she said. "And more than 50 years later, that conversation, about the intersection of our nation's long tradition of religious freedom with policy decisions in the public square, continues."
April 15th, 2012
08:00 PM ET
Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.
By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN
(CNN)–The U.S. Catholic bishops who claim, increasingly incredibly, to speak on behalf of American Catholics hit a new low last week when they released a self-serving statement called “Our First, Most Cherished Liberty.” As this title intimates, the supposed subject is religious liberty, but the real matter at hand is contraception and (for those who have ears to hear) the rapidly eroding moral authority of U.S. priests and bishops.
On Easter Sunday, Timothy Dolan, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, told CBS that the controversial Health and Human Services contraception rule represents a “radical intrusion” of government into "the internal life of the Church.” On Thursday, 15 of his fellow Catholic clerics (all male) took another sloshy step into the muck and mire of the politics of fear.
In “Our First, Most Cherished Liberty” there is talk of religious liberty as the “first freedom” and a tip of the cap to the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement. But first and foremost there is anxiety. “Our freedoms are threatened,” these clerics cry. “Religious liberty is under attack.”
But what freedoms are these clerics being denied? The freedom to say Mass? To pray the Rosary? No and no. The U.S. government is not forcing celibate priests to have sex, or to condone condoms. The freedom these clerics are being denied is the freedom to ignore the laws of the land in which they live.
About this blog
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team and frequent posts from religion scholar and author Stephen Prothero.