Catholic charities?

Author:Stevens, Leonard
Position:Correspondence - Letter to the Editor

Richard John Neuhaus' assessment of the California Supreme Court case requiring charities to provide prescription contraception coverage is off the mark (While We're At It, June/July). The case addressed a specific Catholic charity and found that, as a matter of law, it did not meet any of the requirements in the legislation under consideration that would characterize it as being religious in nature. It was not a question of being "religious enough," as Father Neuhaus claims. Rather, the court found that the charity wasn't religious at all, and rightfully so.

Catholic Charities of Sacramento, Inc., v. The Superior Court addressed "a church-affiliated employer's constitutional challenges to the Women's Contraception Equity Act (WCEA), under which certain health and disability insurance contracts must cover prescription contraceptives." The ruling of the court forces Catholic Charities of Sacramento to provide birth control benefits to any employee upon request or cease providing any drug coverage to all of its employees. The decision should serve as a warning to Catholic charity organizations everywhere.

The WCEA defines a "religious employer" as "an entity for which each of the following is true: the inculcation of religious values is the purpose of the entity; the entity primarily employs persons who share the religious tenets of the entity; and the entity serves primarily persons who share the religious tenets of the entity."

Whether we like it or not, Catholic Charities of Sacramento, by its own admission, does not inculcate religious values, does not employ a majority of Catholics in its work force, and does not serve primarily persons who are in communion with Rome. In other words, giving money to Catholic Charities of Sacramento is no different than giving money to the United Way.

The most serious problem presented by many Catholic charities is that they fail to promote a sense of Catholic identity among American Catholics. Most other religious charities, whether serving primarily Muslims, Methodists, Hindus, or Lutherans, are able to form a sense of...

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